Author(s): Jinbong Choi
The purpose of this study is to evaluate how news media covered the Penn State scandal through contents analysis of news coverage of the crisis. To conduct this research, four newspapers were selected: The New York Times and The Washington Post as nation-wide newspapers, and Centre Daily Times and Daily Collegian as local newspapers. Overall, 368 news articles were gathered during an approximately one-month time period (November 5, 2011 to December 5, 2011). According to the findings of this study, the coverage of the Penn State scandal was heaviest during the first two weeks of the selected time period and all frames were used most heavily during the beginning of the crisis. Regarding the frames used, all newspapers utilized the attribution of responsibility frame, the human interest frame, and the morality frame predominantly. Additionally, local newspapers claimed Coach Sandusky to be the party most responsible for the scandal, while national newspapers found Penn State University responsible more frequently. All responsible parties overwhelmingly employed silence as a response to the crisis and rarely used the ‘accept responsibility’ response.