Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Arts


Dora Fitzgerald


Jessica Kimmel


A content analysis was used to examine how paranormal phenomena was portrayed in the San Antonio daily newspapers and determine if there was any trend in portrayals from 1970 to 1990. The San Antonio Light and the San Antonio Express-News were analyzed from March to May 1970 and March to May 1990. The analysis included data from the individual papers, comparing and contrasting the data from the two time periods. The data between the two papers also was compared and contrasted. The phenomena included unidentified flying objects, aliens, psychics, and ghosts. It excluded religious phenomena such as reincarnation, witchcraft, and visions/sightings of holy personages such as the Virgin Mary. Phenomena was coded for type, number of appearances, section of newspaper, page of appearance, length of story, and tenor (i.e., positive, negative, neutral portrayals). The phenomenon keyword was coded as to whether it was included in a headline and whether the story included a photo, graphic, or table. Positive portrayals were defined as reports in which such phenomena overall were considered or referred to as factual events and/or abilities. A negative portrayal was one that overall indicated skepticism, or statements disproving the existence of the reported phenomena. A neutral, or balanced, portrayal was one that presented an equal percentage of contrasting views of the phenomena and/or use of qualifying language. This research is the first part of a larger research question to be answered in the future: Has the portrayal of the paranormal influenced the public's belief in such phenomena? This question would require use of research methodologies such as questionnaires or experiments. If research points to such an influence, another question that merits further study is which has a greater impact—television and newspaper coverage—or is it only a combination of coverage that has an impact?