Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication

Document Type



This study examined the news coverage of the 2010 health care reform in a comparative context of mainstream and ethnic online newspapers. Since health care reform had consequences among all ethnic groups in the U.S., the news coverage of this policy issue warranted an analysis in a diverse media context. The importance of this study lies in the fact that diverse news media provide a wide range of perspectives to the public and policymakers for a better understanding of an issue at stake. In past studies, mainstream media coverage was criticized for emphasizing political conflict and gains and losses over actual policy problems and ignoring minorities’ interests. Consequentially, ethnic media appeared as alternative media by promoting missing voices of ethnic minorities in mainstream media content. In this context, using the theories of agenda-setting and framing this study explored how differently mainstream and ethnic newspapers advanced agendas and framed the debate around health care reform. This study used content analysis method to examine news stories and editorials on health care reform published from December 2009 – March 2010 in two mainstream online newspapers, and four ethnic online newspapers representing two largest ethnic minorities in the U.S., African Americans and Latino Americans. After analyzing the trends in the use of attribute agendas and frames of the reform coverage, this research came up with four observations. One, mainstream newspaper coverage of the reform debate maintained its pattern of prioritizing political conflict, maneuvering, and consequences over policy-related details and ethnic group-specific information. Two, ethnic newspaper coverage, mainly of Latino newspapers, emphasized the reform details and outcomes. Third, two African-American newspapers could not cover the reform issue like Latino newspapers because of their heavy reliance on mainstream wire service stories. As a result, black newspaper coverage, unlike Latino newspaper stories and editorials, did not adequately include ethnic-group perspectives of health care reform. Four, this study identified that not all mainstream news outlets covered health care reform in the same way. Policy implications received prominent coverage in wire service stories of the reform, whereas political debate was the main focus of mainstream newspaper stories.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Song, Felicia W.