From Robots to Humans: Newspaper Coverage of Mars in the United States and the United Kingdom 2011–2016

Mikayla Mace, Carol B. Schwalbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The global news media have documented space science and missions since the space race began in the 1950s. Only recently has that coverage turned toward Mars exploration and colonization as more governments and private enterprises join the race to the Red Planet. This study compares the framing of Mars coverage from 2011 through 2016 in three influential newspapers in the United States, where NASA and many private companies lead the charge, with three newspapers in the United Kingdom, an allied yet competitive country with less of a vested interest in reaching Mars. A content analysis found that many frames from past space missions were adapted for the Red Planet, such as exploration, scientific knowledge, business, nationalism, settlement, legacy, and fear, while new frames emerged, including life, human health, social justice, and social engagement. The framing and tone of Mars articles were similar in both countries despite their different positions in the Mars race. From the launch of Sputnik to potential human exploration of Mars, each successive era of space exploration has been framed in a logical progression from concept to completion that resonates with the values of the times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1913-1932
Number of pages20
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 2 2020


  • Framing
  • Mars
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • print newspapers
  • tone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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