Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations


Public Relations & Advertising


College of Communication & Creative Arts

First Advisor

FitzGerald, Suzanne Sparks


Professional sports--Public relations; Wrestling--Press coverage


Public Relations and Advertising


This study investigates the media's role in influencing public perception of the professional wrestling industry following the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide. The researcher sought to understand the manner in which newspapers portrayed the professional wrestling industry and whether media coverage in general played a role in forming the public's opinion of the industry.

Through a content analysis of articles and headlines in The New York Times and The Miami Herald, the researcher evaluated the tone of the media coverage of the professional wrestling industry. Intercept studies conducted at two southern New Jersey sports bars revealed where people received their information about the Benoit incident, whether they found the media accounts believable and how the reports made them feel about the professional wrestling industry.

It was found that the media covered professional wrestling in a mostly neutral manner following the Benoit incident. Surveyed respondents also had a neutral attitude toward the professional wrestling industry and their opinions were not changed by media coverage.