Media Coverage of Crises Faced by Higher Education Institutions
AuthorConrad, Robert A.
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The purpose of this dissertation is to examine how different news media covered four higher education crises or controversies: the Ward Churchill academic freedom controversy, the shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Lawrence Summers' controversial tenure as Harvard University's president, and the Duke University lacrosse team scandal. Using the Leximancer software, lexical concepts of news coverage--from news blogs, the Associated Press, and the Chronicle of HigherEducation--for each case data were collected subjected to a chi-square test of independence. Additional analysis examined whether the top-five lexical concepts were consistent with framing theory's five frames of crisis news coverage and whether news coverage in year one differed from year two. Results show that media cover higher education crises differently. Crisis communications recommendations are given for public relations personnel and for administrators and other leaders of higher education institutions who may experience a crisis event or a controversy.