MA IDS Thesis Projects


Cyberactivism: An Assessment of the Power of Social Media Campaigns and Its Relationship to Traditional Media Coverage

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences


International Development and Service

Degree Name

International Development and Service, MA

First Supervisor

Dr. Gerd Horten


This thesis focuses on two interrelated aspects: the power of social media campaigns as well as the relationship between traditional media headlines and specific social media campaigns. In order to study these connections, four social media campaigns – #Jan25, #OccupyWallStreet, #Kony2012, and #BringBackOurGirls – were selected for this analysis and for their respective coverage in traditional news media. The research question seeks to explore if there is a positive connotation between the two media entities by utilizing the second-level of the agenda-setting theory. The theory believes that traditional mass media controls the ability to make certain issues more important based on the coverage given. Second-level agenda-setting focuses on the attributes linked to topics in the news; these attributes can be cognitive or affective. The research here especially explores the affective side of second-level agenda-setting, analyzing the tone and connotation within traditional media headlines. Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, this thesis discusses four social media campaigns and analyzes 400 headlines in traditional media using content analysis to find the latent and manifest coding for each headline. These units of analysis reveal the bias that traditional media has placed on each campaign, as well as social media campaigns as a whole, and argues that this coverage strongly influences how these campaigns are viewed by the general public.

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