Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Second Advisor

Pam Parry

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

James P. Gleason

Department Affiliation



During the past decade, social media has gained dominance over traditional media in an agenda-setting role for journalists, often dictating the news of the day (Pfeffer et al., 2014). With data collected from Kentucky’s Promise Zone counties and C. R. Snyder’s (1991) Hope Scale instrument, this study looks at how the use of social media affects hope, while considering five decades of news media negative stereotypical views of those who live in the mountains of Appalachia (Bowler, 1985). This study examines data from those who live in Kentucky’s designated Promise Zone counties, a 2014 designation by President Barack Obama. Kentucky’s PZ counties: Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry, and Whitley, in some cases geographically and in others socioeconomically, overlap the Kentucky towns of Inez and Paintsville and neighboring communities of Neon, Happy Hollow, Beauty, and Thornton Gap, initially featured in mainstream media reporting from Appalachia when America’s War on Poverty was declared in 1964. News media has continued to report at these locations during War on Poverty milestone years or when poverty becomes part of a political agenda, most often during discussions and debates of entitlement reform (Berke, 1992). This study is also informed by a 2017 report from the United Nations (Alston, 2017) that supports the notion that news media continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes among the poorest and most economically disadvantaged populations within Appalachia. This study also touches on economic research, which has recently emerged, suggesting a correlation between higher hope and the economic success of a region (Wuepper & Lybbert, 2017).