A case study of image repair: Ray Nagin's defense of the "Chocolate City"

Martina D Mills, Purdue University


While the majority of image repair strategies focus on presidents, little attention has been paid to strategies used by politicians at local government levels. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the apologia of a politician who received local and national attention. With the increase of media providing exposure to politicians, current literature does not focus on apologia addressed to multiple audiences, specifically the defense used by politicians who need to maintain a favorable image with their local constituencies as well as a national audience.^ Benoit's (1995) theory of image repair was used to guide this study of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's attempt to repair his image following his 2006 Martin Luther King Day Address where he described New Orleans as a "Chocolate City." Adequate understanding of Nagin's rhetoric must consider each of the audiences his image repair needed to address. This project analyzed how a local politician used discourse to address multiple local and national audiences. Evidence for Nagin's successful use of defense strategies comes from a textual analysis of his two defense interviews along with external evidence to validate why audiences were receptive of his defense strategies.^




Mohan J. Dutta, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Language, Rhetoric and Composition|Mass Communications

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