Institutional Betrayal Through Media Portrayals of Sexual Assault
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In this paper, I analyze how media coverage of sexual assault cases impacts the victims of these assaults. In this thesis, I theorize that the media is an institution, under which betrayal of the subject can occur. I define institutional betrayal, and describe current research that has been done on the subject. I examine institutional betrayal by the media through the analysis and review of three specific cases and the ways the victims and perpetrators of each case were portrayed in the media. The issues analyzed include the Steubenville, Glen Ridge case, Kobe Bryant case, and University of Oregon cases. Following the review of these cases, I analyze media outlets' coverage of victims who choose to speak up about their experiences. I end the paper with a discussion of the ways that the media can use their influence as a tool to aid survivors. This paper concludes with the claim that in its role as an institution, the media has the potential to harm victims through insensitive portrayals of sexual assault. I also target the ways that media outlets describe perpetrators and victims that make implications about their credibility, and provide ways for media professionals to avoid these mistakes.