Date of Award

Winter 2008

Project Type


Program or Major

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Andrew Smith


Polls and studies suggest news outlets appeal to specific "niche" audiences; where news broadcasts seemingly "give the people what they want," through their reporting. Does the broadcast news media manipulate news content in a manner that is consistent with their "niche" audience?

Because Democrats and Republicans have differing views on the economy's vitality, this study analyzes how the media frame unemployment data: what elements of an unemployment report are emphasized; how much time is devoted to a certain aspect of it across networks? This study believes news networks "spin" unemployment reports positively or negatively, depending on their "niche" audience and what party holds the presidency. The overall findings indicate, however, the media focus disproportionately on the unfavorable aspects of unemployment reports, independent of which party holds the presidency or what its "niche" audience is. Previous studies with similar findings say this "shaping of reality" can influence how people vote.