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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Ronald E. Brown


This study examined the role journalists play in framing a highly controversial issue during the 2000 national election year. Media as a linkage institution is much like political parties and interest groups because it provides political information. This study investigated the media effect on agenda setting by examining "framing" with an emphasis on interpretive styles of reporting and editorializing. A secondary purpose was to explore whether reporters/editorial boards used their roles to act as "political activists." This study focused on articles written about the Michigan Tuition School Voucher Proposal 00-1 in the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News from May 1 to November 30, 2000. While several reporters wrote articles about Proposal 00-1, none of the authors appeared to be African American (as determined by viewing online photographs). Although the proposal failed on November 7, 2000, a national election year, little is known about how this issue was framed for voters prior to the election. Three aspects of interpretive framing were explored using Thomas E. Patterson's definition of interpretive style of reporting. These aspects were: Analyzing, Explaining, and Evaluating. Descriptive reporting was also compared to interpretive reporting within and between both Detroit's largest newspapers The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. In addition, three themes were examined: racial, fiscal conservatism, and social equity. Among the three types of interpretation used by reporters (analyzing, explaining, and evaluating) analyzing was used least by reporters. This finding was important because it supported Patterson in regard to his conjecture regarding "How soft news and critical journalism are shrinking the news audience." The dependent variables, evaluating and explaining, were more likely to be used by the journalists than analyzing when discussing the school voucher issue.

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