USFSP Master's Theses (Graduate)

Framing Terrorism: How the Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times Portrayed Sami Al‐Arian in 2001

Wendy Biddlecombe

A thesis submitted in the partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Arts, Department of Journalism and Media Studies, College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida St. Petersburg.


This study examines the framing of Sami Al‐Arian in 2001 by the local, mainstream Tampa Bay press, and compares this portrayal to the outcome of Al‐ Arian’s 2005 trial. In the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, both the Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times covered Al‐Arian in a negative and stereotypical manner, in sharp contrast with the outcome of a 2005 trial that acquitted Al‐Arian of the most serious charges of aiding known terrorists. The theoretical base of this paper is framing, stereotype, and the social construction of reality, and finds the way the press portrayed Al‐Arian had a direct impact on the professor’s life and career, despite never being found guilty.