Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication and Journalism



Committee Chair

Vanessa Murphree

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dave Davies

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Cheryl Jenkins

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Christopher Campbell

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Loren Coleman

Committee Member 5 School



Deutsch Wells’ Kyle McKinnon called her the “most famous teenager in the world” (McKinnon, 2013). Her name is Malala Yousafzai, and at the age of 14 she stood up to the Taliban for threatening her right to an education and was shot in the head. In less than a decade, she became one of the youngest and most influential activists, known to the world simply as Malala. As a Middle Easterner, Muslim and “media darling,” Malala is no doubt an interesting activist to study.

This discourse analysis examined the media coverage of Malala in Western and Pakistani media from 2012-2017; as these were the years that Malala was shot, rose to international fame, won the Nobel Peace Prize and co-founded the Malala Fund. This study is important because it examined whether the Western media’s coverage of Malala and her activism reinforced or broke with the commonly held stereotypes of Muslim and Pakistani society, and whether the Pakistani media’s coverage of Malala and her activism reinforced or broke with commonly held stereotypes of the West.

Using the theoretical frameworks of Orientalism and Occidentalism, the researcher examined Western discourse in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and BBC, as well as Pakistani discourse in the Daily Times and Dawn. The researcher concluded that while the print coverage reinforced the stereotypical views of Muslim and Pakistani society, the broadcast coverage broke from the stereotypical views of Muslim and Pakistani society, positioning Malala as an international activist. Lastly, the researcher concluded that Pakistani media portrayed Malala as a victim, heroine, and agent of the West, but ultimately as the “daughter of the nation.”