A Textual Analysis of Media Frames: The Coverage of the Shooting of Trayvon Martin

Andrea K. Andrus

A thesis submitted in 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 explores the media’s framing of the Trayvon Martin shooting incident, as well as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, the individuals involved. Grounded in framing theory this study uses a qualitative textual analysis to examine the employment of five identified news frames in the coverage of the shooting of Trayvon Martin: conflict, attribution of responsibility, human-interest, racial and legal. The analysis of articles from two television news websites, perceived conservative network foxnews.com and perceived liberal network cnn.com revealed that there are both inconsistent and consistent ways in which the stories were framed. Although the presence of the frames in all the articles is similar, the usage of the frames is different: a different attribution of responsibility – foxnews.com attributed responsibility to Zimmerman less often than cnn.com and cnn.com attributed responsibility to Martin less often than foxnews.com: also, a diference in using race – cnn.com used the racial frame more often than foxnews.com, focusing a majority of the articles analyzed on race; and, finally, an inconsistency in using legal frame between the two sources.