Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Brennen, Bonnie

Second Advisor

Garner, Ana C.

Third Advisor

Slattery, Karen L.

Abstract

This ideological critique assessed mainstream and African American newspaper coverage on racial inequalities such as racial segregation and infant mortality in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from 2010 through 2014. Employing Cultural Studies, Critical Race Theory, and Class Theory, this textual research analyzed the texts of 405 reports, columns, and editorials from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee's mainstream paper of record, and The Milwaukee Courier, the city's premier African American newspaper. The study discovered important convergences in the Courier and Journal Sentinel's portrayal of racial inequalities as indicators of a racially diseased city and nation. However, the research also revealed important differences in how the newspapers constructed the causes of and potential reforms to such disparities. These differences manifested in contradictory ideologies of racial stasis in the Journal Sentinel and racial vigilance in the Courier. Both of these ideologies emerged from coverage in which an avoidance of class discussion became a structuring absence. The divergences and convergences between these two ideologies were indicative of a simultaneous bridging and deepening of the fissures of the African American split image in U.S. news media.