Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Janelle Applequist, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bernardo Motta, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Artemio Ramirez, Ph.D.


Serial Killer, mass media, representation, uses and gratifications, frame analysis


News media play a key role in U.S. society, helping to inform members of the public as gatherers and reporters of information, as well as by serving as government watchdogs. In the ongoing search for and reporting of information, media professionals must be aware of how they report on crime by being cognizant of how they represent killers, victims, and their families, and by being aware of how they represent any gratifications those groups may receive from the media coverage. This study considers the interactions between serial killer Dennis Rader, investigators and media organizations, and how some of these groups may use the media as a tool to gratify or achieve their goals, as reported or represented in newspaper articles. This analysis will examine news stories concerning one of the most well-known serial killers in American society through a mixed-methods approach study that includes a qualitative thematic analysis and a limited quantitative content analysis.