Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation seeks to understand the cultural meanings of the black and mainstream press’ online interpretations of the tea party. Little research exists on the modern black press; what does exist shows that unless the story is about race, the black press mirrors the mainstream press. To my knowledge, no research exists comparing the two presses on a racial issue in an online environment. This dissertation will fill that hole. The tea party narrative was, and continues to be, an intricate story for journalists to tell. Resonant myth offers interpretative templates for journalists to use for crafting cultural meaning while mediating reality. Tracking coverage of the tea party from the group’s beginning in early February of 2009 until one week after the 2012 general presidential election in November, this dissertation will examine what myths emerge, what the emergence of those myths implies about how journalists interpreted the tea party and black political empowerment, and the degree of racial implicitness in the discourse. To my knowledge, no work has coupled resonant myth with racial implicit frames while analyzing online media discourse in the mainstream and the black press. While many mainstream journalists either fail to recognize, or ignore all together, the racial component that the tea party poses to black solidarity, my research shows that black reporters working for the black press absolutely recognize the racial component and provide more thorough discussions than their mainstream counterpart. Historically, the black press has existed to fill holes of misrepresentation in the mainstream press; to that end, this dissertation shows, during a time when some question whether the black press are still needed and whether our society is “post-racial,” this dissertation, by combining a quantitative analysis of implicit racial frames with a qualitative analysis of resonant myth, provides empirical evidence that, in terms of coverage, blacks still struggle to get their voice heard in the mainstream press.
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LaPoe II, Benjamin Rex, "Interpreting Racial Politics: Black and Mainstream Press Web Site Tea Party Coverage" (2013). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 45.