Title page for ETD etd-0411102-135053

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Ledbetter, Jennifer Bhatia
URN etd-0411102-135053
Title 2001 Louisiana Legislative Special Session: Do We All Read the Same News?
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
H. Denis Wu Committee Chair
John M. Hamilton Committee Member
Laura Lindsay Committee Member
  • legislative session
  • teacher's pay raise
  • Louisiana legislature
  • news coverage
  • Harrah's casino
Date of Defense 2002-02-22
Availability unrestricted
This study reviews the newspaper coverage given during the 2001 Louisiana special legislative session. It was convened to raise additional money to fund teacher pay raises through legislation impacting the state’s gambling tax requirements. The seven markets include Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria, Monroe and Shreveport.

The session was a “last resort effort” in response to persistent pleas from educators that had elevated into statewide teacher sickouts. In the fall of 2000 the public voted down new taxes to fund their pay raises. The governor charged his administration to come up with a plan to raise teacher’s pay without further taxing the citizens of the state.

As a statewide issue this would suggest that the media coverage would be similar among the markets. On the other hand, the issue concerning taxes and riverboat/land-based casinos is limited to the cities catering to this entertainment. Harrah’s casino in New Orleans and the “floating boats” are the specific targets of discussion. The researcher looked to see influences on reporting between the markets in the state with and without a local casino. Is it headline news? Are the topics of gambling and teacher pay linked in any fashion?

The results derived from personal interviews, content analysis, and contextual information presented satisfaction that overall the session was covered in each market across the state. Contrary to what literature suggested, the local news made the front pages of the newspapers during this period. The gambling industry took precedence in reporting importance over the issue of teacher pay raise, but both were addressed throughout the sample of articles. Overall the coverage took on a positive tone regarding the session and especially towards the idea of granting teachers a pay raise, regardless of the source of the money. Although during interviews, reporters claimed it a primary responsibility to directly link gambling revenue to the issue of funding teacher’s pay for their readers, the results determined by content analysis indicated they used framing, a more indirect method to get the message to the public.

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