Date of Award

Summer 8-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Chair

Dr. Kim LeDuff

Committee Chair Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 2

Dr. Gina Chen

Committee Member 2 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 3

Dr. Cheryl Jenkins

Committee Member 3 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 4

Dr. Mary Lou Sheffer

Committee Member 4 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 5

Dr. Jun Heo

Committee Member 5 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Abstract

This content analysis study explored framing, rhetoric, and media types used by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Urban League, National Action Network, and ColorOfChange.org in website and social media messages posted during the Trayvon Martin case and Election 2012. It also examined the mainstream print news media coverage these civil rights organizations generated.

On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman, a 28 year old White and Hispanic male, fatally shot Martin, a 17 year old Black male, in Florida. After authorities did not charge Zimmerman with the teenager’s murder, these organizations drafted petitions and staged rallies and marches to demand justice. During Election 2012, the organizations addressed voter suppression and voting rights issues such as voter identification, antiearly voting, and felony disenfranchisement laws. Chi-square and likelihood ratio results showed a significant difference in the collective action and news frames each organization used in both cases. Qualitative analysis suggested that the organizations preferred rhetorical strategies and tactics that encouraged supporters to unite against perceived enemies. Overall, the results suggested that the organizations failed to use multimedia effectively and did not do enough to secure complimentary news media coverage and encourage their supporters and others to engage in online and offline activism.