Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Sherer

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Hilt

Third Advisor

Dr. James Thorson


Images of older adults in the news and advertising media contribute to the way society learns about aging. Visual presentations become increasingly important in our society of information overload where shortcuts are taken through graphics and sound bites. Perceptions are created instantly. There has been little recent research with the portrayal and representation of our aging society in general consumer magazines during the 1990s. There have been no studies that combine both news/feature and advertising photographs. This study seeks to add to the current literature about magazine portrayals of adults over age 65 through a content analysis of four national, large-circulation national magazines, Reader's Digest, Ladies Home Journal, Time and Sports Illustrated. A content analysis of 30 issues over an 18-month period produced a total of 1,719 photographs of which 212 contained older adults. The statistical analysis shows an overwhelmingly positive portrayal with the exception of older women in advertisements. Older women were statistically under-represented to older men. Older adults in general revealed a wide range of representation across individual titles with only slight under­ representation overall.


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 University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1998 Bonnie Gill.

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