Undergraduate Honors Theses

Title

"Who Should I be Afraid Of?" A Content Analysis of Rape Reporting in the New York Times between 1955 and 2005

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology

Abstract

This research expands on the current literature pertaining to sexual assault and rape reported in the media, by analyzing rape and sexual assaults reported in the New York Times between 1955 and 2005. Content analysis was conducted on 450 articles, coding for characteristics including the victim and defendant demographic characteristics and the victim-defendant relationship. Data analysis revealed a number of significant relationships and changes in rape reporting over time. The findings include the significance in the interactions between the race and ethnicity of the defendant and victim, the disproportionate reporting of stranger rape reported, and an established pattern of rape myths found in high-profile cases found in the New York Times. The rape of Black victims is almost invisible in these NYT reports, while the articles reporting on cases of White victims and Black defendants are vastly over-represented, consistent with rape myths surrounding race.

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