FRAMING THE ISSUE: HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING THROUGH THE LENS OF COLLEGE STUDENTS AS MAINSTREAM MEDIA CONSUMERS
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News organiz.ations and other mainstream media play an influential role in molding public perceptions of provocative topics, including human rights issues. This thesis explores the portrayal of human sex trafficking in Oregon through mainstream media and its affects on the way college students perceive the issue. According to Youth Ending Slavery (YES,) Portland, Oregon has the highest number of strip clubs per capita in the United States. This relates to the high frequency of trafficking cases in Portland because many of these strip clubs act as hubs for sex trafficking and other related illegal activity. 1 This, among other key factors, has allowed for the human sex trafficking climate in Portland to grow and continually thrive. Through research on where college students obtain their news as well as an indepth frame analysis of how such news sources discuss human sex trafficking, I will identify key benefits and misrepresentations that provide information regarding the current climate of human sex trafficking, both in Oregon and the United States as a whole. I will examine the framework directly designed around trafficking through work completed by Mojca Pajnik as well as Barbara Friedman, Anna Johnston, and Autumn Shafer and apply it to articles released through social media, smartphone apps, and Oregon university publications. The purpose of this thesis is to uncover the recent developments in how the media outline human sex trafficking, particularly in regards to cases in Oregon and how that may affect college students who are exposed to such representations of the issue.