Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Luft, Rachel

Second Advisor

Baxter, Vern

Third Advisor

Jenkins, Pamela


This study examines how residents of New Orleans, Louisiana were depicted on a variety of evening news programs in the days after hurricane Katrina. A qualitative content analysis of television news transcripts and select audio-visual footage reveals how the media framed crime, the perpetrators of crime and "looting." Media perpetuation of myths such as residents shooting at helicopters and the focus on "looting" and crime had on initial rescue and recovery efforts are also discussed. Results illustrate that the focus on crime, criminals, and looting was more pronounced in cable than network news. Looting was framed as a criminal endeavor and residents were labeled as criminals without evidence. Violent crime was the most frequently-referred to type of crime. The media as a constructor of moral panics, colorblind racism in the form of a coded racist script, and cultural fear of crime support these results.


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