Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Fei Xue

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Christopher Campbell

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. David R. Davies

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Cheryl Jenkines

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Dr. Jae-Hwa Shin

Committee Member 5 School



The problem of misrepresentation and underrepresentation of people with disabilities in printed periodical media raises concerns for stakeholders. Although this problem extends to multiple global cultures, the invisibility of people with disabilities in Saudi Arabia newspapers is particularly concerning. The existence of negative stereotypes that prevent individuals with disabilities from achieving positive progress in their lives is perpetuated by negative frames that the media fosters in its flawed narratives of disability.

The application of the framing theory enables the current study to expand the knowledge of positive and negative frames that exert an influence on stakeholders. Based on the literature review, the research identifies five research questions and three hypotheses that can be tested with the help of quantitative design. The quantitative non-experimental design combined with non-obtrusive research practices sets a foundation for the use of content analysis focused on the sample of 4,878 newspaper articles published in popular Saudi newspapers, namely Al-Jazirah and Al-Riyadh, in the period from 2015 to 2020. To ensure the credibility of the study, an intercoder agreement is employed, while data analysis methods include descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, and z-tests. The study provides answers to all research questions, whereas hypothesis testing offers thought-provoking results. The acceptance of one hypothesis and the rejection of two hypotheses demonstrates the need for changes in the practical and theoretical treatment of the issue of media representation of the targeted group.

The study findings demonstrate that a lack of knowledge about disability prevents Saudi reporters and journalists from discussing the issue in great detail. Saudi newspapers employed the minority and civil rights model that is part of progressive theories. The negative frame of the medical model was the second most popular framework that was determined to exert a potentially detrimental effect on the media coverage of people with disabilities. Gender and age differences also present a concern because some populations within the community of people with disabilities might not receive the attention, they require to change society's visibility positively. For this reason, the dissertation offers practical recommendations, identifies theoretical implications, and delineates possible avenues for future research.