Date of Award

Spring 4-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies


Multi-Disciplinary Program

First Advisor

Dr. Joyce Johnston

Second Advisor

Dr. Sudeshna Roy

Third Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Maniss

Fourth Advisor

Dr. S Ann Wilson


This study critically analyzes organizational and mass media communication about the Penn State Child Sexual Abuse Scandal of 2011. The author examines the different ways in which Pennsylvania State University administrators and officials communicated the scandal internally to their community (campus community and surrounding city community) and compared it to how The New York Times communicated the scandal through their unique media platform to the world. The timeline for the data is from November 1, 2011, to July 31, 2012, as the scandal broke to the world, as well as, the months immediately after. The findings suggest that as the ownership of the communication changes, there is a constant endeavor to re-contextualize the communication. PSU athletic department and university administrators chose dissociative strategies to communicate about the scandal that engulfed every corner of their university in order to protect their reputation in the eyes of the community and country. On a national level, The New York Times dramatized the scandal greatly in ways that lead to more readers and consumers of their articles and papers. Further discussion of the media representation of the scandal and communicative techniques expressed by all parties involved, the entire Penn State University and The New York Times, ultimately lead to the conclusion that the protection of financial interests of the University and the mass media institutions pushes away the socially responsible communicative actions in the wake of this scandal.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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