Ph.D. Candidate Studying Framing of Guantánamo Bay Prisoner Treatment Awarded Fellowship

Kristen Traynor, doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science, has been awarded a University Fellowship by the Division of Graduate Studies for the 2015-2016 academic year. The fellowship is designed to recognize students with outstanding research potential and scholarship. As a part of the fellowship, she will be teaching Politics and the Mass Media in the fall and will devote the spring semester to completing her dissertation. Her research focuses on the nexus of political communication and human rights issues, looking specifically at the ways in which presidential administrations, congressional leaders and the media frame the treatment of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay. Kristen has previously received a Graduate Student Senate Research Award and a Graduate Student Orientation Teaching Fellowship. She earned both a Bachelors of Science in broadcast journalism and a Masters of Arts in political science from Kent State University.


Dissertation Title: Capturing Influence: Elite and Media Framing of Prisoner Treatment at Guantánamo Bay

Abstract: Since the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004, the treatment of prisoners at U.S. military detention centers as part of the “War on Terror” has become a widely-studied issue; however, most researchers have ignored Guantánamo Bay prison in favor of the Abu Ghraib case. This research examines how the mainstream media and governing elite framed prisoner treatment at Guantánamo Bay during two hunger strike periods in order to explain whether the media were reliant on governmental framing or acted more autonomously in reporting on the issue. To explore these questions, this study employs a two-step methodology that utilizes both mixed-methods content analysis and process tracing to analyze elite and media frames concerning prisoner treatment across two presidential administrations. This project speaks to our understanding of how the media frame human rights and foreign policy issues and who influences such framing.