Dissertation in Politics
First supervisor: Prof. Laura Viola
Second supervisor: Prof. Harald Wenzel
Third supervisor: Prof. Robert Entman
This project seeks to investigate the state of news media fragmentation in the U.S. and in regard to the framing of U.S. foreign policy. It tested the assumption of whether an explicitly conservative form of news production would lead to significant differences in the projection of reality concerning foreign events, when compared to mainstream sources of news or debates among policy elites. To do so, cases were selected which were marked by high levels of ambiguity – in order to allow for stark variation in the projection of reality – as well as high levels of politicization – to test for the specific impact of conservative ideology. These cases included the issue of anthropogenic climate change in the lead up to the Copenhagen Accord, the Honduran constitutional crisis of 2009, as well as the publication of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2011 and subsequent media coverage of the Iranian nuclear program. A frame analysis using qualitative data analysis software revealed that while framing by conservative and mainstream media did vary significantly in all three cases, contrasts between the two forms of news production were not as stark as some of the assumptions concerning the state of media fragmentation may have predicted, nor were they always coherent among various conservative outlets. Furthermore, the amount of interpretative leeway offered via conservative media for projecting a specific version of reality fluctuated and appeared dependent upon specific policy preferences.