Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Political Science

First Advisor

Kevin Corder

Second Advisor

Michael Romano


The mass media holds extreme gatekeeping and framing functions. It is the media's ability to frame stories that tells viewers what to think about during a particular period of time, if not explicitly how to think about a topic. Over the course of health care reform in January of 2009 to April 2010 when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed, key concepts in news coverage were analyzed. The New York Times and The Houston Chronicle's articles at this time were researched in order to provide insight on the use of ideological bias in reporting on policy and their influence on lawmaking. The paper studies the changes in key concepts through this time and uses the terms to determine the medias impact on lawmaking generally, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act specifically. Research discovered a surprisingly limited use of biased opinions and also limited bias in framing of news stories. Both newspapers covered fairly similar topics with limited use of frightening terms such as II death panels." There was also limited reference to "Obamacare" throughout health care reform reporting. Overall the research determined the media does choose what viewers will focus on with their use of key concepts and ideas. The framing of stories focusing on specific aspects of an issue creates salience in that topic, such as uninsured in the health care debate. The media has the ability to determine what is on the forefront of discussion and ultimately what will be given the most attention in the lives of viewers and consequently political debates and lawmaking.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access