Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-18-2013

Document Type



A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Journalism and Mass Communications, Under the Supervision of Professor Mary Kay Quinlan. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Rick Willis


This study explores the relationship between media and the U.S. Senate by examining how senators and staff collect, study, and use media. Senators and staff study media to find out how they are portrayed by media. Their collection of news articles for study is an indicator of mediatization, a theory of how media shape society. Political actors study media to understand how media frame news about politics. Mediatization of politics occurs when loosely regulated media evolve from being intermediaries who deliver political news, to become active shapers of the government. The U.S. political system is influenced by the demands of media and their coverage. Political actors must adapt to the form of media they wish to use. Mediatization forces political actors to adopt media rules. To a political actor an altered message presented by media can redefine a career. Political actors cannot ignore media and they must study media. For this study, U.S. senators’ staffs were surveyed to understand why they collect media. The technology of radio, television, the Internet and social media allow media to be increasingly active in the governing process. Mediatization, a theory that describes media as playing a central, active role in society, is supported by this study. Allowing that senators collect media to understand, adapt to, and even counter news coverage illustrates how much influence media have in politics, and how the process of politics has become mediatized.

Advisor: Mary Kay Quinlan