First Advisor

Cynthia-Lou Coleman

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Communication






Diffusion, Framing, Google alerts, Best sellers -- Internet marketing, Mass media and public opinion, Literature and the Internet -- Social aspects, Mass media -- Influence, Communication in marketing, Publishers and publishing -- Information technology -- Social aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 141 p.) : col. ill.


This study describes how information spread on the internet by examining diffusion, framing and source use surrounding coverage of the 2010 best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The book presented a rare opportunity to view how a story about science, discovery and race became a best-seller within weeks after its publication. Through a mixed-methods and case study approach, the author examines patterns of coverage using Google Alerts that traced the book's online coverage in the first six months of its release. The author found that online information clustered around several themes with the most prominent describing aspects of science and scientific discovery, followed by the book's characterization as a "best seller" or "good read." Another recurring theme centered on issues surrounding exploitation in human research. In addition, the study reveals that sources who "set the frame" for coverage were most likely to be media figures, including Oprah Winfrey, Alan Ball and HBO films, in addition to newspapers and individual journalists and science writers. By examining the relationship of online frames with sources, the author found that a diversity of frames is paired with key sources: that is, multiple themes co-occur with source mentions, although the themes may not have been generated by the sources themselves. Rather, sources are linked to narrative frames by others who generate online coverage. The author concludes that, while key sources initially set a message's frame, once diffused, the message may take on other qualities.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Communication

Persistent Identifier