Millennium madness! Y2K?: A content analysis of catastrophic themes in selected print media

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David Ford
Gary Steward, JR.
Juanita Bacus


This qualitative research project investigated two related but distinct moments of historic significance. The first pertained to what became known as the Y2K phenomenon. The second involved the dawning of a new millennium. The researchers speculated that each of these events, either independently or upon their convergence, could provide the impetus for mass behavior or aberrant behavior by some millennium, cultic, or new religious movements . Our interest focused on the impact of the convergence of these two events and the role of the print media in exacerbating or diminishing the effects. Content analysis was employed as the primary method of investigation. We examined the headlines of significant sources of print media throughout the calendar year 1999. Our examination included the headlines of two national magazines, three major national newspapers, one state newspaper and one local municipal newspaper. This research documented themes and narratives which emerged throughout the calendar year of 1999. The most intriguing findings included the absence of any significant event related to Y2K or the new millennium as well as the restraint of the media in their coverage of each event. The researchers explored theoretical frameworks which might explain these findings. In addition, research issues related to methodology peculiar to this type of research were addressed.

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