Communication Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Bruce M. Kirk


Agenda, Brown, CNN, Ferguson, Fox, Wilson


Broadcast and Video Studies | Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Critical and Cultural Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication


This thesis proposal addresses the role that the media play in influencing public opinion with specific attention paid to CNN and Fox News in the way that they covered the shooting of Mike Brown by officer Darren Wilson in August 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. The research has been divided into several sections starting with an introduction which includes, a statement of the problem being addressed, the significance and purpose of this study, and a section about myself as the researcher. This is followed by a literature review which consists of explaining the Agenda Setting Theory to examine how the media might create agendas, a brief mention of the theory of Social Influence to explain how the public is influenced, some other studies on agenda setting and how those studies effect this one, an overview of both CNN and Fox News, and finally a history of race relations in this country from Civil Rights until present. This will be followed by the methodology. The research method that was chosen to work through this problem is a qualitative method that focuses on case studies. Five news articles on the Ferguson incident will be analyzed, from CNN and five from Fox News along with five interviews/broadcasts from each outlet. Merriam Webster defines agenda as, “a plan or goal that guides someone's behavior and that is often kept secret” (Merriam Webster, 2015). The exploratory purpose of analyzing these sources is to see if a media agenda can be detected and if so what that agenda is and how it influenced the public in regards to race relations after the shooting of Mike Brown.