Bound Volume Number
Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Prof. Margaret Thompson
Prof. Kristi Andersen
Arts and Science
New York Times, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, first lady
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
American Politics | Gender and Sexuality
This study analyzed New York Times coverage of Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama's official first lady activities during the first term of their husband's presidencies. Language used by journalists was analyzed to determine whether there was a negative, positive, or neutral tone used that may have indicated support, favorability, or criticism; and if so, whether there are certain activities or types of activities that warrant more negative or positive coverage; and how this changes depending the first lady and activity covered. ProQuest Central was used to find relevant New York Times articles that reported the first lady acting in an official role, and the articles were categorized based on what activity was reported and coded according to the negativity or positivity in language and tone on a five-point scale.
The following hypotheses were tested with the subsequent results: (1) The first lady’s main campaign or project (healthcare reform, literacy and education, and childhood obesity, respectively) would have the most coverage, and this was supported by coverage of Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama; (2) Hillary Clinton would have more coverage in general than Laura Bush or Michelle Obama, and this was also supported by the results; (3) Coverage of political activities would be the most negative in tone, this was only supported by coverage of Michelle Obama; and (4) Hillary Clinton would have the most negative coverage because her main project was policy-based, and this was also supported by the results.
Shah, Siddra, "First Ladies in the Press: Analysis of New York Times coverage of Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama" (2015). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 855.
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