Media and Public Discourse

Sharon is interested in how issues are talked about in mass media and uses both quantitative and qualitative techniques in analyzing discourse. She conducted a study on the news framing of immigration in two policy debates—on the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) in 2006 and on the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act or Arizona Senate Bill (S.B.) 1070 in 2010—for her MA thesis. She analyzed 490 news articles of The New York Times and USA Today. She received the University of Pittsburgh Norman P. Hummon Memorial Award for Outstanding Research for her study and published an article in Mass Communication and SocietyHer findings show that through the use of multiple news frames (“Nation of Immigrants,” “Immigrant Takeover,” “Cheap Labor” etc.), the media create diametrically opposed representations of immigration and contemporary immigrants but at the same time normalize dominant ways of thinking and talking about immigration that sustain and consolidate power relationships.

Currently, using data from Twitter and user-generated content in the newspaper Rappler, Sharon is looking at the online discourse on the Marcos dictatorship during the thirtieth anniversary of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines.