Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Deborah Smith-Howell

Second Advisor

Dr. Jeremy Lipschultz

Third Advisor

Dr. James Johnson


The presidential campaign of 1996 marked the first presidential election where the World Wide Web was widely used. The election provided media outlets with an opportunity to create, for the first time, news content suited to the Web's strengths: interactivity, immediacy, and depth. Much of the research on politics and news examines how reality is constructed through news content. This study used news values and the biases these values create as a framework for studying how politics was presented to the American public via the World Wide Web. This study provided a detailed description of the political reality that was constructed on two media Web sites during the 1996 nominating conventions. A qualitative analysis was chosen in order to present a rich descriptive illustration of what was available on the two Web sites. The results were presented by organizing the content according to categories such as issue coverage, presentation of personal information, use of polls, availability of mobilizing information, availability of original documents, presentation of historical context and availability of interactive features. The results indicated that because of the volume of information on the Web, no single reality existed. Unlike users of the traditional media, this study illustrated that users of the Internet can possibly create their own reality. The Internet provided opportunities for users to interact with the political process, obtain issue information, and possibly consume a news product that was less fragment than the traditional media. Future research will need to investigate what information Internet users are actually consuming.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Communication University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Christine Sanders November, 1996