Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Journalism

First Advisor

Kathleen Wickham

Second Advisor

Joseph Atkins

Third Advisor

Samir Husni

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to correlate agenda-setting effects of the press to newspaper coverage of public university desegregations in the southern United States in the early 1960s. Front-page news and editorial page content from the Atlanta Constitution, the Athens Banner-Herald and the Red & Black newspapers were analyzed for the 1961 desegregation of the University of Georgia. The Clarion-Ledger , the Oxford Eagle and The Mississippian newspapers were analyzed for the 1962 desegregation of the University of Mississippi. The Birmingham News, the Tuscaloosa News and the Crimson White newspapers were analyzed for the 1963 desegregation of the University of Alabama. Judgments of the favorability or legitimacy with which news articles and editorial content portrayed desegregations were made by the researcher and the content coded as being pro-desegregation, anti-desegregation, neutral or unclear. In Georgia and Alabama, less tumultuous university desegregations correlate to newspaper coverage that was mostly neutral or pro-desegregation. In Mississippi, a highly volatile university desegregation correlates to newspaper coverage that was often anti-desegregation in the news section and always anti-desegregation in the editorial pages, except in the case of The Mississippian. Historical analysis of the desegregations provides an additional framework for interpreting results.

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