Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Mass Communication Graduate Program
This thesis is designed to analyze contemporary news coverage of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Relying on self-governance theory as well as agenda-setting and framing theory, the author examines reporting in 222 news articles from January 2020 through December 2021 to evaluate how journalists are presently covering Section 230 and how news coverage can be improved to further self-governance principles. This thesis concludes with the author offering a set of “Best Practices” recommendations for journalists to consider implementing to improve future news coverage of Section 230 and a proposed description of the law. The Best Practices recommendations include: considering ways to increase thematic coverage; including clear definitions of Section 230; discussing Section 230’s impacts; prioritizing balanced reporting; and reporting accurately and avoiding common legal missteps.