Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Barranco, Raymond Edward

Committee Member

Rader, Nicole E.

Committee Member

Kelly, Kimberly C.

Committee Member

May, David C.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology


The purpose of this dissertation was to analyze perceptions of terrorism through the analysis of two newspapers’ news coverage of terrorism after the September 11 attacks, a popular Kentucky newspaper, the Courier-Journal and the New York Times (NYT). The social construction of terrorism was reflected as a problem through moral panics or something that a society believed as wrong that needed to be eradicated. Previous research had found that newspapers have contributed to moral panics by exaggerating the scope of social problems such as school shootings. I used the theoretical framework of moral panics; Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s (2009) two criteria of moral panics, which were (1) concern and (2) volatility; portrayals of heroes, folk devils, and victims in moral panics; and war on terror as sensitizing concepts to find themes. I analyzed 500 the CJ newspaper articles and 500 the NYT articles from September 11, 2001 to August 30, 2018 to find the differences between both newspapers, identify portrayals, and determine how terrorism was socially constructed. Overall, I found differences between the two newspapers on how they depicted terrorism and themes on how both newspapers reported and described terrorism. The reporting on terrorism has implications to the overall handling of terrorism such as the Muslim Travel Ban.