Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies

First Advisor

David Allen

Committee Members

Lia Wolock, Michael Mirer


Agriculture, Ethanol production, Framing, Trade publication


This thesis investigates the use of science by media to shape discussions about policy in society. Specifically, it investigates how one influential trade publication, Ethanol Producer Magazine, used science in its construction of pro-ethanol production stories. This study is a multi-method analysis of Ethanol Producer Magazine’s feature articles. To determine how sources and writers use science to frame ethanol production during policy changes in the industry, 36 feature stories from four issues in 2009 and 2010 of Ethanol Producer Magazine were analyzed. The results of this study found that Ethanol Producer Magazine is a publication that presents one side of the story of ethanol production. Ethanol Producer Magazine cites organization leaders (CEOs, Presidents, and Vice Presidents) of ethanol production companies more frequently than other sources to frame ethanol production. Organization leaders were allowed to discuss the technological advancements in the industry and call into question scientific conclusions that might run contrary to the interests of ethanol production. While the research of academic scientists is often referenced, those scientists are not given a voice to explain their research. Instead, Ethanol Producer Magazine relies on organization leaders to explain scientific data. Ethanol Producer Magazine often used science to respond to political or policy developments. The results also show that when policy is perceived as being negative towards ethanol production, Ethanol Producer Magazine used science to delegitimize that policy.