Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Sub-Department

College of Information and Communications

First Advisor

Sei-Hill Kim

Abstract

This research considers the issue of hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale and coal deposits. The technology, commonly referred to as “fracking,” has only been employed on an industrial scale since the late 1990s and is increasingly becoming the focus of news coverage. In this thesis research, a representative sample of both national and regional newspaper coverage on the issue of hydraulic fracturing is analyzed, looking at several key elements of framing. This study also examines differences in issue framing between the national elite press and regional news sources, as well as based upon partisanship. The analysis found that hydraulic fracturing tends to be framed as an issue of technological uncertainty, economic impact, or public accountability/governance, within both national and regional news coverage. Within the discourse, support for fracking is most often described in terms of economic benefit, whereas opposition to fracking is largely expressed through concerns over ecological damage and the lack of political/regulatory oversight. Further, findings suggest the tone of fracking stories has primarily been positive at both the national and regional levels, as well as among both liberal and conservative leaning new sources.

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