Media scandals, rumour and gossip: A study with an ear close to the ground

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The abiding interest of researchers in the nature of mediated scandals continues to provoke discussions of what this phenomenon actually is, and how it is best researched empirically. This article argues that despite the claims that a modern scandal is manifested mainly through traditional and digital media, a careful analysis of the lived experience of this phenomenon—using in-depth qualitative interviews with the subjects of scandal¬—demonstrates that to fully understand it, we must take into account other forms of direct human communication, such as gossip and rumours, which flourish among the audiences as a response to the transgressional acts that started the scandal.

The results of this study challenge the idea of ‘mediated scandals’ as a typically modern conjuncture that can be separated from ‘localized scandals’ or ‘classic scandals’. Instead, I consider the mediated scandal to be above all a cultural phenomenon, which audiences use to debate and negotiate transgressional acts and norms. They also reflect the historical staying power of this phenomenon, and the urgent need to analytically transgress the alleged border between the ‘mediated’ dimension of communication with the mouth-to-mouth-dimension, which may very well be one of the most influential news medium in every society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 7

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Media Studies

Free keywords

  • media scandal
  • rumour
  • gossip
  • media circuit
  • oral communication
  • journalism


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