Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)


Communication, Professional

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

John M. King

Committee Members

Karen Harrington, Stephen W. Marshall


The aim of this study was to examine the extent to which U.S. newspapers covered the chatter surrounding the 2009/10 healthcare reform debate at the expense of the substance. Also of importance was how the political leanings of newspapers influenced the coverage they gave the issue in terms of tone and page or story prominence. Newspaper endorsement data from Editor & Publisher magazine were used to determine the political leanings of U.S. newspapers based on the candidate they endorsed in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Newspaper articles related to the topic were retrieved from the Lexis-Nexis database and analyzed. The results showed that overall the healthcare reform debate received substantial coverage in U.S. newspapers; but the major part of the coverage was dedicated to the arguments, protests, and thoughts of people concerning the issue (90.3%) rather than the substance of the issue (9.7%). Implications of the results for media practitioners, communication scholars, and researchers were discussed.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.