Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Lynda Leavitt

Second Advisor

Dr. Kevin Winslow

Third Advisor

Dr. Sherrie Wisdom


The researcher used quantitative content analysis techniques and explored how the media used language, sentiment, and tone, when reporting on United States K-12 public education (USPE) in four different media types and over a five-year period. The researcher used positive and negative word frequencies on stories in four different news media: New York Times (print & online), Huffington Post (online), ABC/NBC broadcast (TV), and Time/ Newsweek magazine (magazine); across a five-year period. The researcher converted positive and negative word frequencies in each news story to an overall tone rating scale from 1 to 5 indicating an overall positive or negative tone for each news story. The researcher collected news stories from 2015 to 2019 on K-12 USPE and categorized them based upon media type and year. Year and media types defined the independent control variables, while positive and negative word frequencies and overall tone ratings defined the dependent variables. With computer aided-sentiment analysis software, the researcher used a sentiment dictionary and determined the positive, negative, or neutral polarity, or sentiment, of all words within a sample of news media stories on USPE. The researcher analyzed overall tone ratings and sentiment frequencies with ANOVA testing, test of proportions, and z test of proportions to determine a difference in media tone and media sentiment word frequencies. The researcher also compared overall tone ratings in news media on USPE and public opinion poll responses on USPE to determine whether overall tone ratings found in news media had a relationship to the public’s opinion results on USPE. Study results revealed differences in frequency of positive, negative, and neutral words and overall tone throughout the various news media outlets and between years. However, there was little difference in the use and proportions of positive, negative, and neutral words across all media and years combined, and little relationship between public opinion and the overall tone ratings of news media on USPE. More research is necessary to determine if media reporting on USPE is becoming more negative, positive, or fluctuating over time.


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