Date of Graduation

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Journalism

Advisor

Rob Wells

Committee Member

Ray McCaffrey

Second Committee Member

Dale Carpenter

Keywords

Content analysis, Gun policy, News coverage, Political speech, Sentiment analysis, Twitter, Arkansas

Abstract

While the gun debate has been one of America’s most politically contentious issues, Twitter has become, in recent years a popular venue for politicians to carry out the debate. The present thesis is aimed at better understanding of political speech on Twitter, as well as the ways in which political frames and sentiment on Twitter differ from those of news media coverage regarding gun policy in the state of Arkansas.

The study uses framing theory, which assumes that both news media and individuals use frames to construct perceptions and narratives about issues. Adopting an automated content analysis as a method, the study examined 354 gun-related tweets downloaded from the Twitter accounts of three Arkansas politicians (Charlie Collins, Denise Garner, and Greg Leding) and 40 news articles about gun policy involving these politicians from three local newspapers.

The results indicated that state politicians’ discourse on Twitter constituted of a variety of extremely polarized words and frames pertaining and appealing to the core values of their local constituents, while local newspapers’ frames were very fact-based and unbiased. The results also showed that political sentiment on Twitter was extremely negative, fearful, and agitated, while news media expressed a very neutral sentiment in their coverage of gun policy, suggesting a new venue for further investigation of current assumptions about the negative nature of news tone.

Share

COinS