A Divided Media: A Framing Analysis of the United States Television News Coverage of Syrian Refugees



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Television news organizations report stories through several communicative frames, which impact wide-ranging public opinion, garner immense power, and can influence entire populations. This study examines how U.S. television news organizations reported on Syrian immigrants before and after August 18, 2016 - the date of publication of the powerful photo/video of Omran Daqneesh. While encapsulating the innocence and devastation of many trapped in Syria's ongoing civil war, this Aleppo toddler's experience made global headlines and touched the hearts of millions. A quantitative content analysis of two separate television news organizations, Fox News and MSNBC, was conducted to study the valence and frame type of two politically diverse news sources (i.e., conservative and liberal), using broadcast transcripts pertaining to Syrian immigrants. This thesis analyzes how framing characteristics varied between the sources and scrutinizes how reporting changed before and after the photo/video's release. Broadcast transcripts were retrieved from the LexisNexis database. Primary results exhibited that in the two weeks after the event, television news sources more commonly reported the incident using an episodic frame, while MSNBC reported more positively toward Syrian immigration. Additionally, overall reporting was more positive, regarding Syrian immigration, while many broadcasts were simply valence neutral.



immigrant, immigrants, Syria, Syrian, asylum seeker


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