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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Fred Vultee

Second Advisor

Katheryn Maguire

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the conversations that Internet user have when discussing publicized, recorded incidents of police brutality. This study examined the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Walter Scott and the subsequent discussions about the incidents on YouTube.com, MSNBC.com and NYTimes.com. This was accomplished by using an exploratory content analysis to establish what are the general topics of these discussions. This analysis found that there are 2 major themes that are discussed by Internet users when they comment; the content of the video and the social context of the incident itself. However, the popularity of these themes vary by platform and incident. The variation in the themes discussed was found to be caused by a combination of moderation policies, community expectations and the specific details of each incident. Recommendations for future research include temporal observation of discussion development, examinations of discussions in additional communities and explanatory analyses of how internet users discuss these themes.

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