Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

James Cavendish, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Danny Jorgensen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christy Ponticelli, Ph.D.


sociology, media logic, violence, descriptor, theme, angle, education


This thesis reports findings from a content analysis of 720 newspaper articles and 3,052 newspaper article cases focused on the issue of print media bias. Sunday editions of three major newspapers were drawn from the six-year period 1998-2003 for analysis. Prior research has uncovered print media bias in reporting of religious groups, and this thesis examines the substance of those claims pertaining to both established religions and new religious movements. Research findings show that established religions and their members are typically described in favorable or neutral terms, while new religious movements and their members are consistently described with pejorative terms. However, specific established religion members received the overwhelming majority of negative religion member descriptors. Articles focusing on established religion members were found to contain the bulk of visual aides accompanying the articles. Newspaper articles discussed incidents of violence by and/or against specific religious groups of both types of religion with a high frequency. Also, newspaper article themes and angles were found to be important for conveying the content of the articles. Additionally, an appendix is included that analyzes the treatment of religion, established religions and their members, and new religious movements and their members in sociology textbooks.