Title page for ETD etd-04272011-111335

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Christensen, Britt Don
Author's Email Address bchris5@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-04272011-111335
Title The American Empire: A Content and Textual Analysis of the Media Coverage of the 2009 U.S. and Colombia Military Base Agreement
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Lawrence, Regina Committee Chair
Dunaway, Johanna Committee Member
Goidel, Kirby Committee Member
  • chomsky
  • entman
  • framing
  • textual analysis
  • content analysis
  • agenda setting
  • objectivity
  • American empire
  • empire
  • media
  • alternative media
  • omissions
  • agenda denial
  • dissent
Date of Defense 2011-04-14
Availability unrestricted
The United States maintains a worldwide network of military bases and spends more on military expenses than the rest of the world combined. This project seeks to analyze how the U.S. mainstream media cover and discuss the American Empire both broadly and specifically. I conducted a quantitative content analysis and a qualitative textual analysis of the Media coverage of the 2009 U.S. – Colombian military base agreement, which was protested by Latin American leaders. I analyzed the coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN.com, and The Miami Herald regarding the US military’s use of bases in Colombia in 2009. I used the alternative news sources Democracy Now! and Venezuela Analysis to compare to the mainstream outlets coverage and search for alternative arguments and omitted information. The “White House” frame emerged as the dominant frame due to its repetition across multiple sources from the U.S. and Colombian governments, as well as the U.S. media. With the near absolute exclusion of opposing domestic voices from the United States and Colombia, the “base opposition” frame was seriously disadvantaged. The coverage focused extensively on Hugo Chavez as the primary objector to the base agreement and the framing of the coverage largely undermined his arguments. Critical and dissident voices and perspectives did not appear in the U.S. mainstream media coverage sampled here. The story told by the U.S. media reflected the explanations for the base agreement through the lens of policy makers. This project demonstrated that while traditionally analyzing the content that appears in the U.S. media proved useful, the greater discoveries came from the less researched area of information omitted from the coverage.
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