Date of Award

Fall 12-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Chair

Dr. Jae-Hwa Shin

Committee Chair Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 2

Dr. Christopher Campbell

Committee Member 2 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 3

Dr. Fei Xue

Committee Member 3 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 4

Dr. Kimberly LeDuff

Committee Member 4 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 5

Dr. Cheryl Jenkins

Committee Member 5 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Abstract

The following study employs content analysis to examine the crisis communication responses and audience reception of religious leaders involved in scandal. Benoit’s Image Repair Strategies and the Contingency Theory are used to determine the strategies, stances and contingent variables of mega-church leaders: Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, Eddie Long, Henry Lyons and Jimmy Swaggart; and the Boston Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. News framing theory determined media and audience reception of the religious leaders’ crisis communication responses.

The study concludes that there is little difference in mega-church leaders and the Boston Diocese’s crisis communication responses. Religious leaders’ dominant strategies were bolstering and denial, and their media portrayals were balanced.

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