Media Framing the News on Cyber-Security

Chinese soldiers set up electronic jamming equipment in this official People's Liberation Army photo.

(Editor’s Note: Some students in the International Media program at American University are now researching their final capstone projects. These projects will take the form of either scholarly papers, or professional and creative projects. We are posting proposals and updates on these projects to demonstrate their progress.)

by Katie Leasor
Special to Sutradhar’s Market

Computers have become the digital guidepost that directs and organizes our lives.  Everything from our banking information, online shopping transactions, and even how our infrastructure is managed, has been stored and controlled in cyberspace. It is also seen as something that can be used as a powerful national security threat. In this sense, the news has been filled with information on about the potential threats of cyber-warfare stemming from abroad, where China has been constantly referred to as conducting the attacks. In my research project, I will be exploring how cyber-security is represented in the media and in these news stories, paying particular attention to how China has been framed. There has been a plethora of U.S. news articles that have discussed cyber-security events and data breaches against the U.S. government. My research questions focus on what are the dominant frames that emerge in how these news articles discuss cyber-warfare and cyber-security events, and how often official government speeches are mirrored in how these events are framed.  Additionally, if possible, I would also like to research and compare how the coverage and framing of these cyber-security events is represented in speeches that are conducted by government officials to see if elite framing occurs.

This research project will advance the knowledge of international media because cyber-security coverage has been widespread in the media for the past five years or so, but no one has analyzed its coverage and how the media have framed their stories about it. By researching how cyber-security events are portrayed, it may illustrate how the media’s unique characterization communicates certain meanings to audiences apart from just stating facts and figures and may advance the political agenda on national security.  By conducting an analysis of speeches conducted by government officials, this could lend a different, deeper level of analysis to my research to uncover if the journalists who are writing these articles are just sticking to the information and facts about cyber-security events, or if they are framing their stories to mirror those perspectives of government officials.

(The photo is from the People’s Liberation Army via and is in the public domain.)

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