The 2013 Steubenville Rape Case: An Examination of Framing in Newspapers and User-generated Content


  • Mia Moody-Ramirez Baylor University
  • Tonya Lewis Baylor University
  • Ben Murray Baylor University



Using the lens of medium theory, this content analysis explored the framing of the Steubenville rape case in newspapers and blogs before, during and immediately following the trial. Our findings indicate newspapers focused on social media’s role in documenting the rape and the trial of the two assailants. Blog posts, on the other hand, focused on rape victims’ rights and social media’s role in bringing the case to justice. Of the 78 newspaper articles and blog posts coded, medium type did not make a significant difference in the framing of perpetrators and the actual act of rape. However, there was a significant difference in how the media types framed the case in general. This is a noteworthy finding, as it appears that newspapers were colorblind in their coverage and not as prone to use race frames as indicated in previous studies. Conversely, blog posts offered a platform for discussing issues that were omitted in mainstream media such as women’s rights, rape myths and the need for rape awareness/prevention programs for parents and youth.


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