“Whistleblower or Leaker?” Examining the Portrayal and Characterization of Edward Snowden in USA, UK, and HK Posts

  • Amy Wu
  • Will W. K. MaEmail author
  • Wendy W. L. Chan
Conference paper


This study evolved from the question of how whistleblowers are portrayed and characterized by the news media. A primary objective of this study is to specifically examine how Snowden was characterized and portrayed in The Guardian and The Washington Post as well as a control comparison with a Hong Kong newspaper, South China Morning Post (SCMP) as Snowden had been stayed in Hong Kong. To this end, a comparative textual analysis of news articles was performed—by tracking the keywords—from the period of June 10, 2013 (when Snowden first disclosed the information to the newspapers) through October 31, 2013. This study concludes that keywords may be critically important in the portrayal and characterization of individuals such as Snowden, and that portrayal of that individual can change over a selected time frame. Since this study is based on limited analysis of selected news coverage to date, its conclusions must be viewed as preliminary in need of future data as the Snowden coverage continues.


Whistleblower Leaker Contextual analysis News 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philip Merrill College of JournalismUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Online Communication Research Centre, Department of Journalism and CommunicationHong Kong Shue Yan UniversityHong KongChina
  3. 3.School of CommunicationHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongChina

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