This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Examining the Framing of Book Banning in Alabama: A Study of News Coverage through Content and Critical Discourse Analysis




McCormick, Ainsley M.

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Communication and Journalism

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



The issue of book banning in education systems and public libraries has increased in recent years as a tool being weaponized by politicians, specifically targeting material about LGBTQ individuals and people of color. News coverage is a major source of information that influences public perception; however, literature remains scarce on how news organizations are framing coverage of book banning attempts. This study explores how Alabama news outlets frame stories on book banning and whether this presentation contributes to a conservative political agenda. The research analyzes six major Alabama news outlets, conducting a qualitative content analysis and a critical discourse analysis to explore how major news organizations reported on book banning from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023. Specifically, this study seeks to reveal how news outlets in Alabama a) frame the issue of book banning, b) potentially advance a conservative political agenda, and c) privilege certain voices in their coverage. This study found that episodic framing is more prevalent than thematic framing. The seven major themes found were: banning attempts rising, conflict within the community, historical comparison, importance of access to knowledge, insufficient book content context, lack of political nuance, and misuse of language. Findings revealed that leaders and politicians were most often represented, with students and marginalized voices rarely heard. In addition to community characteristics, gender, age, and race often did not represent those with marginalized identities whom book banning is targeting.