Date of Award

8-2002

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Sandra Berkowitz

Second Committee Member

Nathan E. Stormer

Third Committee Member

Lyombe Eko

Abstract

An analysis of modem mass mediated presidential inaugurals was conducted through the use of close textual analysis of each speech as well as an historical analysis of the development of the mass media since the nation's birth. In an effort to identify the goals, themes and strategies used by presidents in their inaugurals, seven pre-Kennedy and every post-Kennedy first inaugural address were analyzed. Using the work of Campbell and Jamieson (1991) as a stepping stone for the identification of these themes, seven themes and their various strategies of enactment were uncovered. Each of these themes were found to be enacted by each president of the modem media era with two goals in mind: 1) the reconstitution of the people; and 2) to lay the foundation for policy appeals. It was found that several of these themes evolved at relatively the same time as the mass media and audience size grew, leading to the conclusion that the mass media play a role in the construction of a modem mass mediated presidential address. This role seems to be related to the notion of the evolution of audience, which in turn is related to the development of new themes and strategies within inaugural addresses. This discovery indicates that the media have become a mitigating factor speech writers must pay attention to when constructing any political address.

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