Framing and claiming: Media coverage of Hurricane Katrina
McGann, Kimberly J.
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This dissertation examines the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. A content analysis of television, newspaper, and blog coverage during the first week after the storm struck is used in three separate analyses. In the first analysis, the media's framing of race in its coverage of the storm is examined. The concepts of frame stability, frame stretch, and frame substitution are introduced as a model for tracking changes to media frames. The analysis traces the narrative story in newspapers' framing of the behavior of survivors in New Orleans and evidence of a frame substitution between looting frame and a lawlessness frame is presented. The final analysis revisits the media's role in the social constructionist model and explores whether newsworkers acted in a primary claims-making capacity in covering Katrina. The results indicated (1) there was relatively little frame stretch or overall attention given to race during the first week after Katrina struck, (2) newspapers switched from using a looting to a lawlessness frame with detrimental consequences to rescue operations and disaster planning, and (3) the media, particularly television newsworkers, acted as primary rather than secondary claims-makers. These results are then linked to the organizational structures of different media genres and the implications of these findings for media researchers, media organizations, and the public are discussed.