Framing a Pope: Analyzing Media Frames in The New York Times Coverage of Pope Francis

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Virginia Tech

This study extends notions of framing theory by drawing from research analyzing the framing of Pope Francis within coverage from The New York Times. The mass media has, since the election of Pope Francis in 2013, provided him extensive coverage on a myriad of issues. Previous studies have noted Pope Francis' propensity to draw massive amounts of media attention towards his actions and statements, even noting the potential for Pope Francis to control the media narrative through his own implementation of frames. Drawing on framing theory, this study examines the ways in which coverage of Pope Francis is defined by The New York Times by finding relationships between the issues addressed in Papal coverage, the frames implemented within this coverage, the valence of the messages, and the presentation of Pope Francis himself. This thesis yields that coverage of Pope Francis within The New York Times has shifted from positive valence to primarily neutral valence when comparing the first three years of his papacy to second three years. The findings of this thesis could potentially inform future studies which may wish to determine potential for frame transfer due to the content of articles or for studies which may wish to delve deeper into the issue with a much larger sample.

Framing theory, Generic frames, Pope Francis, Content analysis