Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Lorie Fridell, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Victor Kappeler, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wilson Palacios, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wesley Jennings, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Cochran, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Max Bromley, Ed.D.


event-driven model, media, news, use of force


This research examined the police-media relationship through an exploratory content analysis of news articles indexed as police brutality and/or deadly force published in six newspapers (The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Denver Post and USA Today) between August 9th, 2013 and August 9th, 2015. This timeframe was selected in order to determine whether significant differences exist between articles published in the year before the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th, 2014 compared to those published in the year afterward. Specifically, this research examined whether and how news stories pre and post-Ferguson exhibited characteristics of Lawrence’s (2000) event-driven model of news production. Event-driven news stories are indicated by increased frequency of coverage and differences in the types of voices and views represented.

Content analysis indicated significant increases in overall reporting on police brutality and deadly force were found in the year after the killing of Michael Brown compared to the year before. Also, there were increases in the types of voices and views associated with the event-driven model of news production (critical nonofficial voices and systematizing views) in the year after the killing of Brown compared to the year before. Finally, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) results indicated considerably different discourse construction in news stories indexed as police brutality or deadly force in the aftermath of Brown’s killing compared to similar articles published the year before. Specifically, racial categories are more emphasized and victims of police brutality and deadly force are constructed as more passive and sympathetic after Brown’s killing compared to the year before.