COVERING THE RISE OF TEA PARTY: A CASE OF MAINSTREAM MEDIA

Open Access
Author:
Chen, Tiange
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Journalism and Political Science
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Bu Zhong, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • Bu Zhong, Honors Advisor
  • Russell Frank, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • journalism
  • media
  • content analysis
  • tea party
  • political science
Abstract:
Devoted to the intersection of media, politics, and social movements, this thesis aims to dissect media discourse through computer-aided content analysis on emotion, time orientation, cognitive process, and psychological drives so that it may uncover how opinion leaders framed and formulated their tone and perspectives on the Tea Party Movement during the 2010 Midterm Election. Adopting the popular text analysis software Linguistic Inquiry and Word Counts (LIWC), the research analyzed opinion articles published in the New York Times (NYT) and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) during the month before and after the election on November 2, 2010. The analyses reconstruct and account for similarities and differences between opinion leaders or columnists working for the NYT and WSJ in terms of their tones and attitudes toward the populist movement. While the election outcome and opinion articles did not differentiate the general tone towards the TPM between the two newspapers, opinion leaders from NYT expressed more anger and remorse than their counterparts at WSJ. The WSJ’s opinion pieces expressed more upbeat projections for the future and the TPM than those in NYT. This study fills a gap in the literature by exploring opinion leaders’ treatment of populism, whose approaches should also represent the ideological tilts of U.S. mainstream news media. The findings in this study should advance the understanding of the rise and fall of a populist movement in a Western country.