Title

Framing Race: An Analysis of Media Coverage of the Racially Motivated Murders of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin

Date of Award

5-2021

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Media and Entertainment Arts BS

Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Cheryl Jenkins, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Abstract

In August 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago, was brutally murdered by two white men for “wolf whistling” at a white woman. Fifty-seven years later, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman on February 26, 2012. The unwarranted killings of these two Black boys caused uproars across the entire country. This study examines how the media framed and represented Till and Martin in the cases of their racially motivated murders. Prior research shows that Black male youth are framed in the media as deviant and lawless, continuously being represented as criminals. However, there are a few studies that analyze how Black victims are represented in the news, specifically when their deaths are racially motivated. This research investigates the language used to describe Till and Martin in media accounts. A content analysis of media texts was conducted with media representation and racial framing serving as the theoretical frameworks. Articles from the Clarion-Ledger, Orlando Sentinel, and New York Times were analyzed for this study. The results were indicative of implicit bias against Till and Martin. They were represented as troublemakers and framed through the common stereotypes used to describe Black, male youth.

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