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Institutional Accountability, Media Coverage and Military Sexual Assault: A Case-Based Analysis

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As the U.S. reckons with the reality of sexual assault and harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it is particularly important to consider sexual assault in the military, an institution that is a massive employer and the face

As the U.S. reckons with the reality of sexual assault and harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it is particularly important to consider sexual assault in the military, an institution that is a massive employer and the face of the U.S. abroad. Media coverage is a catalyst for change, and the nature and scope of coverage is indicative of public and political attitudes. This thesis uses both quantitative and qualitative data to analyze characteristics of military sexual assault cases that complicate media coverage and to identify strengths and weaknesses of the media's approach to such stories. On the quantitative side, it takes advantage of nearly 600 case reports of sexual assault from U.S. military bases in Japan that were categorized to identify themes such as disposition outcomes, alcohol involvement and victim participation in investigations. Qualitatively, this thesis includes interviews with military officials, victims' advocates, journalists and other stakeholders that help to create a more holistic understanding of how media cover military sexual assault. Notably, this thesis finds that a lack of public interest in the military, a lack of congruency between military and civilian systems, and a highly complex hierarchy that limits journalists' access to military sources and data all complicate coverage. Drawing from these conclusions, it recommends that the media avoid episodic reporting, focus on personalizing stories in an institutional context, embrace accountability journalism and dedicate resources to pursuing complex investigations. It also acknowledges the important role of non-traditional media in the future of information sharing on the topic of military sexual assault.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Reading and Writing Military Science Fiction

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Discusses the reading experience and writing strategies in relation to four prominent novels from the genre

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Created

Date Created
2013-05