Guam's Trial of the Century: News, Hegemony, and Rumor in an American Colony

Guam's Trial of the Century: News, Hegemony, and Rumor in an American Colony

Guam's Trial of the Century: News, Hegemony, and Rumor in an American Colony

Guam's Trial of the Century: News, Hegemony, and Rumor in an American Colony


This volume is a critical case study of the press coverage of the corruption trial of former Guam Governor Ricardo Bordallo, who maintained a strong indigenous rights stance, and committed suicide "for his people" rather than serve a three-year jail sentence. DeBenedittis focuses on the media's role in cultural imperialism, taking the position that news is necessarily hegemonic. Particular topics include how story structure and labeling can imply guilt or innocence, and how rumors play a unique role in mitigating the persuasive power of the press. Besides illuminating analysis of the media produced during the trial, DeBenedittis includes interviews conducted with key personnel at every media outlet in Guam, trial participants, Bordallo's press secretary, and several cultural critics.


Does the concept of hegemony adequately explain the local news-creation process taking place in the United States, its possessions, or the countries to which we export our media? For an answer to this question, I looked to the island of Guam during the trial of the late Governor Ricardo J. Bordallo and specifically examined how hegemony operates within the news media in this U.S. colony. At the time, I did not consciously choose Guam as a location for this study. While living and working here I observed and understood the significance of the events surrounding Governor Bordallo's trial. Serendipity smiled on me; my only task was to document the hegemony I witnessed taking place in what Guam's major newspaper dubbed the Trial of the Century--the prosecution of the Governor Ricardo J. Bordallo on seventeen federal counts of corruption.

Although the lessons learned from this study are larger than just those that apply to the trial, centering this discussion around a single case, particularly one so important to the territory, allowed a clear presentation of issues to emerge. It demonstrated the dynamics of hegemony by giving real-world referents against which theoretical concepts could be tested.

Guam is an American colony that has never been given the political choice of adopting any particular form of government. It was captured by the United States at the turn of the century and is a possession controlled by Congress.

This study documents examples of hegemony as they work through the news media in a culture where a mostly indigenous population is exposed to mainly imported media. Among the specific areas of interest in this work are the interaction of ideology, media, and the island's . . .

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