Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Hollie Smith


The Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) is the first operational offshore wind farm in the United States. Two different theoretical frameworks are applied in an attempt to understand the nature of media coverage about offshore wind energy in the United States. Chapter 1 utilizes gatekeeping theory (Shoemaker & Vos, 2009) in comparing the local and regional newspaper coverage of the BIWF. Specifically, chapter 1 is focused on understanding the use of sources. The data from chapter 1 suggests that the gatekeeping processes at regional and local outlets are more similar than different, but business sources are more dominant than has been proud in previous research. Chapter 2 uses Stephens et al. (2009) and Smith et al.’s (2016) adaptation of Luhmann’s theory of ecological communication (1989) comparing the first five years of local newspaper coverage of the Cape Wind offshore wind farm and the BIWF. The data from chapter 2 suggests coverage of the Cape Wind offshore farm utilized more risk narratives than the local coverage of the BIWF, yet coverage of both wind farms centered around the political dimensions related to the projects.

Available for download on Friday, April 17, 2020