Framing technique can be used as a public relations strategy in cases of sexual assault

August 27, 2008

In Spring 2006, when three White Duke University lacrosse players were charged with raping a Black female student from nearby North Carolina Central University, Duke University officials framed the crisis in terms of institutional reputation rather than the rape issue at hand.

In a new study published in the journal Communication, Culture & Critique, Barbara Barnett of Kansas University reports on her qualitative textual analysis of public relations materials published by Duke from March 24, 2006 through June 18, 2007.

Allowing for the examination of emphasis and meaning, Barnett's analysis revealed that the University carefully crafted its response to allegations of rape, presenting itself as a voice of reason in an emotionally charged atmosphere, and as a victim of a rogue prosecutor, whose case relied on rumor rather than solid evidence. In a case that involved allegations of rape, there was surprisingly little discussion on the issue of rape itself.

Duke University proved adept at speaking about its own image and integrity, but failed to address the larger issues in the case, including sexual objectification of women, the risks of sexual violence on college campuses, and the perceptions of privilege in U.S. college athletics.

"In the end, the charges against the Duke athletes turned out not to be true, but for nearly nine months, Duke lived with allegations that three student athletes might have raped a student at a nearby university. Duke focused on its own reputation but missed an opportunity to talk about the larger issue of rape" Barnett notes. "Sexual violence is a serious matter, and organizations that find themselves confronting such charges, even charges they suspect may not be true, need to speak clearly and strongly to the issue of rape itself."

Source: Wiley

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4.5 / 5 (2) Aug 27, 2008
Oh, please. What the author of this paper seems to forget is THERE WAS NO RAPE. There was no crime. There was no sexual violence. There was no privilege given to the athletes. None of the above ... all of which Duke University studiously avoided discussing.

So to say that Duke "failed to address the larger issues" misses the point entirely. Duke University did a horrible job of supporting their students, ignored their own policies, and refused to rein in their own staff. Their actions were pitiful, but not in the way that this clueless author claims.

If they were "adept at speaking about its own ... integrity", what were they talking about? Because if the lacrosse incident proved one thing, it was that the administration and faculty of Duke were totally lacking in integrity.
not rated yet Aug 28, 2008
You have to understand that for most feminist and womens studies academic authors (in what ever field they are practising in) it is religeous doctrine that the world is a patriarchy which controls and victimizes women. A woman as victimizer is either irrelevant - because it supposedly happens at such a low rate compared to men...or essentially impossible - because female victimizers have themselvse been victims for so long that they can no longer be held responsible for their actions.
Despite the victims (the Duke lacross players) and their families being demonized and dragged through hell on a national stage, the feminist media analyst sees the patriarchy (Duke University in this case) as victimizing women by failing to discuss the broader societal issues such as the objectification of women.

The author presented the same story last summer as:
"Good Sports? A Feminist Framing Analysis of Public Relations Strategies
in the Duke University Lacrosse Crisis
Barbara Barnett, Kansas University"
Another analysis the author did was on the case on Andrea Yates (the woman who drowned her 5 children):
"The author concludes that the Yates stories reinforce traditional notions about femininity "that women are "natural" caretakers" and suggests that journalists and women "advocates challenge this myth by raising questions about the responsibility of both parents in child care, calling attention to postpartum psychosis as a legitimate illness, and considering ways to help women who are unable or unwilling to care for their children."

not rated yet Aug 28, 2008
"...Duke focused on its own reputation but missed an opportunity to talk about the larger issue of rape"


Duke focused on it own reputation but missed an opportunity to talk about the larger issue of men falsely accused of rape by an abusive legal system.
not rated yet Aug 28, 2008
When I read the title of this study

Framing technique can be used as a public relations strategy in cases of sexual assault

as related to the Duke Lacrosse Case, I thought it was an exposé, a %u201Chow to%u201D instruction manual written by Michael B Nifong, the infamous disbarred Durham, NC DA. He who attempted to frame three Duke Lacrosse Players for a gang rape that never happened.

The title had all the elements of his criminal activities:

Frame Technique:
I thought I was going to read about his personal strategy:

* find willing acolytes from the Durham PD
* get assistance from the obsequious and spineless Duke President Dick Brodhead
* incite racial hatred by pandering to the black population of Durham and the lunatic left Group of 88 Angry Studies Professors (the most vocal of which was Wahneema Lubiano) who wrote the asinine and infamous %u201CListening Statement%u201D.
* trash the reputation of the innocent %u201Cwhite privileged Duke athletes%u201D and paint them as Hooligans.
* Withhold exculpatory evidence (DNA)
* Refuse to talk to the Accuser

I also though I would read about his monetary motivation:

* use the frame to entrench his position as Acting DA by making it permanent.
* lie to the US public about the %u201Cfacts of the case%u201D to enhance his pension [an extra $20k per year].

Used as (a) Public Relations Strategy:
I thought I would be informed as to how he perpetrated the Frame:

* saturate the press with inflammatory lies
* co-opt the ever so willing Herald Sun and Raleigh News and Observer
* use his lies to get %u201Ca million dollars%u201D of free publicity

Case of Sexual Assault
I expected to get %u2018inside information%u2019 as to the frame details:
* how he knew there was no rape and
* how he chose to continue anyway with the most emotive possible type of felony to boost his ratings for a failing DA who is behind in the polls.
* how he conveniently found the NTO document in the photocopier.
* how he got the co-operation of Duke University Medical Centre, and its neophyte SANE.

and so on.

Instead the whole article is about the tired meta-narrative:
* White is bad, male is even worse, athletes untenable.
* Duke is a patriarchal society
* Duke though only of its image
* It did not address rape in the greater context
* The university might have moved beyond defending itself and tried to educate its staff and its publics about sexual violence

What unmitigated nonsense the whole article is. But then what can you expect. The author is a Duke Woman%u2019s Studies graduate with a degree in journalism from another NC university.

Oh and by the way, nowhere does the study mention that THERE WAS NO RAPE!

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