First Advisor

Joshua Eastin

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science and University Honors


Political Science


Mass media and public opinion, Pulse Nightclub Shooting (Orlando, Fla. : 2016) -- Press coverage -- Case studies, Terrorism -- Press coverage -- Case studies, Terrorism and mass media, Emigration and immigration -- Public opinion -- Case studies, Discourse analysis




This article aims to examine how terrorist attacks influence public discourse concerning immigration, both in bias and in overall amount of discussion by conducting a quantitative and qualitative content analysis study on the Pulse Nightclub shooting. I will ultimately try to contribute to the research question: how do acts of terror affect public discourse concerning immigration? I will draw from a wealth of other content analysis articles with particular reference to studies on the effect of differing terms for immigrants affecting public opinion such as Merolla, Karthick Ramakrishnan, and Haynes 2013. This study is split into two parts and specifically looks at positively and negatively slanted word counts in three different newspapers during time periods before and after the shooting. I argue that the shooting should increase the amount of overall discourse with a particularly high increase in the incidence rates of negatively slanted words, thereby demonstrating an increase in negative bias towards immigrants. I find initial support for an attack influencing both the amount of overall and negative discourse, although whether or not this increase is uniquely tied to the event remains unproven. I also find some evidence that after an act of terror incidence rates of certain words tied to different racial conceptions of immigrants go up while others go down. In addition, I conduct a qualitative analysis of 60 newspaper articles in differing time periods before and after the shooting, and find little differences in tone before and after the shooting, but interesting results about the types of words that differently leaning publication choose to use.


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