First Advisor

Cynthia-Lou Coleman

Date of Publication

Spring 5-28-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Communication






United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Undercover operations -- Press coverage -- United States, Terrorism -- Prevention -- Press coverage -- United States, National security -- Press coverage -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 112 pages)


The current study utilizes Critical Discourse Analysis and Thematic Analysis to study newspaper coverage of F.B.I. sting operations in The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today. F.B.I. sting operations are a modern counter-terrorism policy designed to preempt acts of terrorism. This study develops a theoretical approach to understanding F.B.I. sting operations by reviewing the critique of security. The critique of security suggests that nations construct threats in order to produce and maintain ideological and practical hegemony. Thematic categories of the newspaper discourse are formulated and analyzed in the context of security. The study employs aspects of grounded theory for theoretical positioning.

Findings suggest newspaper coverage of F.B.I. sting operations reflect and expand security in a number of important ways. Newspaper coverage provides information on a significant tactic used in the War on Terrorism and gives insight to the justification and reasoning for using that tactic. These pieces of information explain the interplay of security and counter-terrorism policy. However, findings also suggest security fosters positive relationships between nations, which requires repositioning aspects of the critique of security developed previously. Finally, newspaper discourse of F.B.I. sting operations helps contextualize the way modern counter-terrorism policy is ideologically configured. Findings show the dominant ideological configuration is security. The study considers how this framework contributes to a flawed understanding of the nature of peace.


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