School of Communication and the Arts


Doctor of Philosophy in Communication (PhD)


Robert Mott


genda setting, cybernetics, media framing, propaganda, Putin, semiotic analysis, Zelensky




This qualitative study conducted a content analysis to examine the media framing and agenda setting that online news media outlets underpinned to portray President Zelensky and the Ukrainian military as heroes in their battle against the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The media framing and agenda-setting of the news media coverage of the Russian invasion, as well as the utilization of multiple social media platforms by the Ukrainian military and President Volodymyr Zelensky, signifies a shift in the utilization of popular media for propaganda purposes. There is research on the broader topic of the successful use of propaganda through print and broadcast media. However, as technology evolves, so does the use and function of media, necessitating additional research, particularly into the topic of an ongoing war that has garnered an unusual level of support for the often-war-torn region. This qualitative content analysis examined more than 1,200 unique artifacts that consisted randomly selected public social media posts from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as online news articles from news outlets around the world including France24, Al Jazeera, India Times, BBC, and The Wall Street Journal. This study reveals that through his strategic utilization of social media, President Zelensky amassed financial support and support via military donations for his nation from countries around the world, America included. Online news media outlets from numerous countries, through largely objective reporting, still set the agenda of news stories to portray SLAVA PROPAHANDI (GLORY TO PROPAGANDA) 4 Russia as the evil aggressor and Ukraine as the victim. Similarly, online news media framed Zelensky as the hero leading the defense of his nation, and Putin as the villain leading the attack on innocent lives. An analysis of social media posts and hashtags revealed that the same sentiments were echoed on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. There is much to be learned about the most effective use of digital media and social media for propaganda purposes, particularly the direct use of social media platforms by world leaders themselves, rather than just citizens or news media sources.

Available for download on Friday, May 24, 2024

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