Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication

First Advisor

Lulu A. Rodriguez


The rise of ethanol as a fuel alternative has come with much controversy over its true benefits. Much of this debate has been played out in the media. This study aims to determine patterns in media coverage of ethanol through a content analysis of reports published from 1999 to 2008 in three newspapers whose respective service areas exhibit different dispositions about the topic--the Des Moines Register, the Houston Chronicle and the Fresno Bee. The study also aimed to expand on the attributes of coverage within each identified phase of the coverage cycle

The study found only one cycle of pre-hoopla, hoopla, and post-hoopla stages in the sample of 383 articles. The three papers had very similar patterns of coverage, although the Chronicle had not entered the post-hoopla stage at the end of the study timeframe. Differences were found among the newspapers in sources cited. During the pre-hoopla period, the most-quoted sources were politicians. Ethanol industry workers were heavily quoted throughout the hoopla periods. The majority of the articles in the Register and the Bee had at least one local source, while more than half of the Chronicle's stories did not have local sources. Contrary to previous studies, the initial sources in this study were political figures, government officials and ethanol industry workers rather than scientists. The predominance of political, industry, environmental and economic frames in all papers suggests that the ethanol issue was portrayed less as a scientific issue. Only the Register exhibited a consistent positive tone throughout the coverage phases.


Copyright Owner

Shoshana Esther Hebshi



Date Available


File Format


File Size

96 pages

Included in

Communication Commons