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Journal of Communication

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Hurricane Katrina (2005), Disaster relief -- United States, Mass media and race relations


This study looks at the effect of news images and race on the attribution of responsibility for the consequences of Hurricane Katrina. Participants, Black and White, read the same news story about the hurricane and its aftermath, manipulated to include images of White victims, Black victims, or no images at all. Participants were then asked who they felt was responsible for the humanitarian disaster after the storm. White respondents expressed less sense of government responsibility when the story included victims' images. For Black respondents this effect did not occur. Images did not affect attribution of responsibility to New Orleans' residents themselves. These findings are interpreted to support the expectations of framing theory with the images serving as episodic framing mechanisms.


© 2010 International Communication Association


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Communication. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Communication, 60(3), 466-490.



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