Bound Volume Number


Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2015

Capstone Advisor

Prof. Margaret Thompson

Honors Reader

Prof. Kristi Andersen

Capstone Major

Political Science

Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component



New York Times, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, first lady

Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.