Does a Media Organization’s Defense of its Own Image Matter?

Chuka Onwumechili


Organizations and individuals depend on the mass media to transmit a transgressor’s apologia to the public. In such cases, the effectiveness of the apologia is dependent on public reception of and attitude to the apologia. However, with most studies of crisis communication focused on transgressors who rely on media as third party, little is known of what happens when that third party (media) is the transgressor. For instance, how do other media react when a competing medium transgresses? And how does a media transgressor frame its message to its audience? This study on The Sun newspaper (UK) investigates those questions. In this case, The Sun issued an apologia after a racial faux pas that outraged the city of Liverpool. The study finds that competing media took advantage of the situation not only to critique The Sun, but also to excoriate the newspaper by insinuating unethical motivation for The Sun’s publications and suggesting that The Sun’s readers abandon the newspaper. In contrast, a textual analysis shows how The Sun framed a different message to its readership.


: apologia, newspaper reputation, competing media, media framing, image repair and crisis communication

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