This dissertation examines news coverage, from mainstream and African American print media, of black athletes and entertainers who inserted themselves into public debates about race and nation through non-traditional forms of dissent at various points in U.S. history. The way media makers, serving particular publics, understood and constructed the role of African American celebrities in discourses of race and nation is examined through a theoretical lens that combines public sphere theory, framing scholarship, critical race theory and questions of celebrity. This research contributes to understanding journalistic norms for covering intersecting issues of controversy and celebrity while complicating and advancing our understanding of how mass media construct political and social dissent levied by raced figures. At the same time, important questions regarding the agency of African American celebrities to influence media discourse and the limitations placed on this agency are addressed. Results suggest that while historical moment and intersections of identity play an important role in the construction of dominant media frames, little has changed over time in the ideological undermining and reprimanding of African American celebrities who express dissent. At the same time, discourse in the black press has become less inhibited in criticisms of the status quo over time while consistently framing African American celebrity dissent within both counter-narratives to mainstream discourse and internal community debates.
University of Minnesota. Ph.D. dissertation. December 2010. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Dr. Catherine R. Squires. 1 computer file (PDF);vi, 296 p.
Jackson, Sarah J..
African American celebrity dissent and a tale of two public spheres: a critical and comparative analysis of the mainstream and black press, 1949-2005.
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