Toward the Greening of Nuclear Energy: A Content Analysis of Nuclear Energy Frames from 1991-2008

Open Access
Miller, Sonya Renee
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 16, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Dr Frank Dardis And Dr Patrick Parsons, Dissertation Advisor
  • Patrick Robert Parsons, Committee Chair
  • Francis Erin Dardis, Committee Member
  • Fuyuan Shen, Committee Member
  • Michelle E Day, Committee Member
  • nuclear energy
  • agenda-setting
  • framing theory
Framing theory has emerged as one of the predominant theories employed in mass communications research in the 21st century. Frames are identified as interpretive packages for content where some issue attributes are highlighted over other attributes. While framing effects studies appear plentiful, longitudinal studies assessing trends in dominant framing packages and story elements for an issue appear to be less understood. Through content analysis, this study examines dominant frame packages, story elements, headline tone, story tone, stereotypes, and source attribution for nuclear energy from 1991-2008 in the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Unlike many content analysis studies, this study compares intercoder reliability among three indices – percentage agreement, proportional reduction of loss and Scott’s Pi. The newspapers represented in this study possess a commonality in the types of dominant frames packages employed. Significant dominant frame packages among the four newspapers include human/health, proliferation, procedural, and marketplace. While the procedural frame package was more likely to appear prior to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the proliferation frame packaged was more likely to appear after the Kyoto Protol. Over time, the sustainable frame package demonstrated increased significance. This study is part of the growing literature regarding the function of frames over time.