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Jim Kuypers
Nationality American
Alma mater Florida State University
Louisiana State University
Occupation Professor

Jim A. Kuypers is an American academic specializing in communication studies.[1] A professor at Virginia Tech, he has written on the news media, rhetorical criticism and presidential rhetoric, and is particularly known for his work in political communication which explores the qualitative aspects of framing analysis and its relationship to presidential communication and news media bias.

Kuypers graduated with a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts from Florida State University. He earned a Ph.D. in communication studies from Louisiana State University.

Kuypers has taught at Virginia Tech since 2005. Previously, he was a senior lecturer in rhetoric and oratory at Dartmouth College and taught at Louisiana State University, Florida State University, and Florida Atlantic University.



Kuypers’ work falls into two broad categories: political communication and rhetorical criticism. The field of political communication spans both communication and political science. Political communication involves the study of the political rhetoric of individuals and groups. For Kuypers, politics is a process that takes place through communication, rather than the sheer exercise or attempt at power. [2]

Political Communication

Kuypers’ work in political communication involves looking for media bias, especially how the news media frames political news. According the author, "Framing is a process whereby communicators, consciously or unconsciously, act to construct a point of view that encourages the facts of a given situation to be interpreted by others in a particular manner. Frames operate in four key ways: they define problems, diagnose causes, make moral judgments, and suggest remedies. Frames are often found within a narrative account of an issue or event, and are generally the central organizing idea." [3] He has developed a qualitative (rhetorical) version of framing analysis which is designed not only to look for bias, but also to understand how the original messages of political actors are reframed by the press before being transmitted to the public. [4] In his work he has investigated how news broadcasts, stories, and editorials act to shape public understanding of issues and events in a particular direction.

A Framing Analysis Trilogy


Presidential Crisis Rhetoric and the Press

Kuypers’ first major work examining framing, politics, and the news media was Presidential Crisis Rhetoric and the Press in the Post-Cold War World. In this work he examined the changed nature of presidential crisis rhetoric since the ending of the cold war, and first advanced a qualitative version of comparative framing analysis. It was here that he first used the term "agenda-extension" to describe a process where the news media "beyond the strict reporting of events" and instead foster a particular understanding of an issue or event. [5]

In relation to other theories of the press, Kuypers argues that "agenda-extension begins when media gatekeepers decide to publish a particular story because issues are often framed by station managers, producers, or editors by how they decide to tell a particular story. Although deciding what story to tell (gate-keeping) is the first step in all news reporting, the press takes a second step when determining how much attention to give to the story (agenda-setting), and a third step when they determine how to tell the story (agenda-extension). [6]

Press Bias and Politics

In 2002, his framing research was expanded in Press Bias and Politics: How the Media Frame Controversial Issues. In this work, Kuypers comparatively analyzed the speeches of five pubic figures, ranging from ministers to presidents. Here Kuypers examined approximately 700 press reports on controversial issues that were published in 116 different newspapers. Kuypers reports finding a left of center bias in the mainstream press reporting practices. He argues that this bias hurts the democratic process in general by ignoring non-mainstream left positions and vilifying many moderate and the vast majority of right-leaning positions. In short, he found that only a narrow brand of liberal thought was supported by the press, with all other positions shut out or shut down.

This work also puts forward four distinct journalistic practices that the press uses that allows for bias to seep into its reporting; and argues that the mainstream press in America is an anti-democratic institution. The core assertion of the book is that the mainstream press in America operate within a narrow range of liberal beliefs, and that those to the left or the right of these views will be ignored, mocked, or denigrated.

Bush’s War

Kuypers’ third book in this framing trilogy is Bush’s War: Media Bias and Justifications for War in a Terrorist Age. According Kuypers, "The idea [in the book was to] look for themes about 9-11 and the War on Terror that the President used, and then look at what themes the press used when reporting on what the president said. After identifying themes, I determine how those themes are framed. Through this comparative analysis, we can detect differences in the frames presented to the American people, and determine the nature of any press bias." [7] What Kuypers found was that the news media echoed the president’s themes and the framing of those themes immediately following 9/11. But just eight weeks later, the press had changed its manner of reporting, was actually framing Bush as an enemy of civil liberties, and was actively helping critics of the president.

Rhetorical Criticism

Kuypers work in rhetorical criticism involves critical commentary on the state of the art in the field of rhetorical criticism. Several publications demonstrate his effort to explain advocacy based criticism: “Must We All Be Political Activists?” (2000) [8] and “Criticism, Politics, and Objectivity: Redivivus ” (2001) [9] are two such works. Kuypers has also edited Rhetorical Criticism: Perspectives in Action (2009) in which he explains rhetoric, rhetorical criticism, and also presents 16 different perspectives on how to do criticism.

Selected publications

  • Rhetorical Criticism: Perspectives in Action (Lexington Books, 2009). ISBN 0739127748
  • Politics and Communication in America: Campaigns, Media, and Governing in the 21st Century (Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2008). Robert E. Denton and Jim A. Kuypers. ISBN 1577665333
  • Bush’s War: Press Bias and Framing of the War on Terror (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006). ISBN 0-7425-3653-X
  • "A Comparative Framing Analysis of Embedded and Behind-the-Lines Reporting on the 2003 Iraq War," Qualitative Research Reports in Communication 6.1 (2005): 1-10. Jim A. Kuypers and Stephen Cooper
  • The Art of Rhetorical Criticism (Boston: AllynBacon, 2005). ISBN 0-2053-7141-8.
  • Press Bias and Politics: How the Media Frame Controversial Issues" (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002). ISBN 0-2759-7759-5
  • Twentieth-Century Roots of Rhetorical Studies (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001). Jim A. Kuypers and Andrew King, eds. ISBN 0-2759-6420-5
  • Presidential Crisis Rhetoric and the Press in the Post-Cold War World (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997). ISBN 0-2759-5721-7


  1. ^ Kuypers’s webpage at Virginia Tech
  2. ^ [Denton and Kuypers, Politics and Communication in America: Campaigns, Media, and Governing in the 21st Century]
  3. ^ [Bush’s War]
  4. ^ [Bush’s War]
  5. ^ [Jim A. Kuypers, Presidential Crisis Rhetoric and the Press in the Post-Cold War World, Greenwood Press, 1997.]
  6. ^ [Jim A. Kuypers, Rhetorical Criticism: Perspectives in Action, Lexington Books, 2009.]
  7. ^ [Bush’s War]
  8. ^ [ “Must We All Be Political Activists?”]
  9. ^ [ “Criticism, Politics, and Objectivity: Redivivus”]

See also


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