Date of Completion

2017

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Political Science

Type of Thesis

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Robert Bartlett

Second Advisor

Brendan Fisher

Third Advisor

Trish O'Kane

Keywords

Cape Wind, offshore wind, media analysis, framing, media effects, Massachusetts

Abstract

The United States is considered a global leader in terms of land based wind power, yet its offshore wind potential remains greatly untapped (Gilman et al., 2016). Cape Wind, a proposed offshore wind farm for the Nantucket Sound of Massachusetts, was meant to be the first of its kind in the nation. Since 2001 the project has undergone much debate over its anticipated benefits and risks to the communities surrounding it. Public opinion trends evidence a shift from majority opposition to support for Cape Wind by 2009, but the factors that contributed to this change are unknown. Researchers suggest that media outlets may have played an important role in educating the public on its impacts. In this research project I performed a media analysis of 198 newspaper articles from the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and Cape Cod Times to assess their framing of Cape Wind from 2003 to 2009. These newspaper outlets were chosen because they represent liberal, conservative, and local perspectives, and may have differed in their reporting of Cape Wind. A codebook of risk and benefit frames was adopted to categorize information presented in the studied articles. Then, correlations were identified between the newspapers’ framing from year to year with trends in local public opinion. Differences in reporting across the newspaper outlets were also assessed. The use of aesthetic & cultural, health & safety, and political frames paralleled with changes in citizens’ overall perceptions of Cape Wind. Also, the Boston Globe was found to have a statistically significant greater number of articles with benefit frames compared to the Boston Herald and Cape Cod Times. The results indicate that the newspaper outlets contrasted slightly in their reporting of benefits and risk to Cape Wind, and their collective framing trends did not correlate entirely with the findings of local public opinion studies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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