Framing Protesters: Description Bias in the Coverage of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Charlotte Protests
College of Arts and Sciences: Core
This article examines the coverage of two protest events, occurring in Harney County, Oregon and Charlotte, North Carolina, for description bias. The two demonstrations occurred in 2016 and had a similar underlying goal to draw the nation’s attention to the pertinent issues they wanted the country to address. Research has shown that media framing does not typically align with protester goals and can detract from the centralized message, especially if conflict is present. This study uses articles published by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to search for description bias in the coverage of the protest events, which can affect how the demonstrator’s message is portrayed to the nation. Using Shanto Iygenar’s definitions of thematic and episodic framing, I searched the content of each article for a predominant frame. The results of this study concluded that the media possessed bias in the framing of the two protest events. This is shown through the data collected demonstrating that the Malheur protest was covered with a prevalent thematic frame, whereas the coverage of the Charlotte protests possessed an episodic frame. There are multiple factors that could have contributed to this result, such as the level of police presence, racial differences, or journalist inattention to the substance of demonstrations.
Schiele, Mary A.
"Framing Protesters: Description Bias in the Coverage of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Charlotte Protests,"
SUURJ: Seattle University Undergraduate Research Journal: Vol. 2, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarworks.seattleu.edu/suurj/vol2/iss1/7