Date of Award

12-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Sociology

Major Professor

Lois Presser

Committee Members

Stephanie A. Bohon, Suzanne Kurth

Abstract

Using the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case as an example, this thesis attempts to understand how the media, specifically The Chicago Tribune, maintain the consistency of a certain representation given changing or new information. A full analysis of all 274 news articles found in The Chicago Tribune from June 30, 2003 (the date the alleged sexual assault took place) through August 31, 2004 (the day before the charges were dismissed), revealed five devices by which journalists managed Bryant’s image. These devices are: (1) case is not paramount, (2) case is hindering basketball, (3) external lures are to blame, (4) silver lining in the allegations, and (5) “court-to-the-court.” The Tribune writers used these devices in order to maintain the newspaper’s credibility as a consistent news source. The newspaper’s credibility was salvaged through reconstruction efforts to reconcile Bryant’s prior, positive persona with the current reality of the sexual assault allegations.

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