Communication Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Stuart S Schwartz

Primary Subject Area

Journalism; Mass Communications


Framing theory, Media bias, New York Post, New York Times, Terri Schiavo


One of the richest areas of current research in mass communication involves framing theory. Originally developed by Erving Goffman (1974), framing is used by the media to organize content. As such, it has implications for the values, beliefs, and actions of those exposed to that content. This study attempts to apply framing theory to a controversial issue and event profusely covered by American mass media: the case of Terri Schiavo. To accomplish this, coverage of her final month by two print newspapers, The New York Times and the New York Post, was analyzed for prevalence (present or absent), level of substance (substantive or ambiguous), and valence (positive, neutral, or negative) of frames. Each paper was also coded for the type and valence of sources cited. Significance was found to support the presence of certain frames in each newspaper, with a leaning toward keeping Terri Schiavo alive found in frame valence in New York Post and a leaning, with stronger significance, toward removing her feeding tube in The New York Times.