The Politics of Negotiating Public Tragedy: Media Framing of the Matthew Shepard Murder
This essay undertakes a detailed frame analysis of print media coverage of the Matthew Shepard murder in three nationally influential newspapers as well as Time magazine and The Advocate. We contend that the media's tragic framing of the event, with an emphasis on the scapegoat process, functioned rhetorically to alleviate the public's guilt concerning anti-gay hate crimes and to excuse the public of any social culpability. It also functioned ideologically to reaffirm a dominant set of discourses that socially stigmatizes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons and to hamper efforts to create and enact a social policy that would prevent this type of violence in the future. A concluding section considers Burke's notion of the "comic frame" as a potential corrective for the media's coverage of public tragedies.
Ott, Brian L., and Eric Aoki. "The politics of negotiating public tragedy: Media framing of the Matthew Shepard murder." Rhetoric & Public Affairs 5, no. 3 (2002): 483-505.
Rhetoric and Public Affairs