Who Am I Now? Existential Dilemmas in the Wake of Media Scandals

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


In the modern age of mediated visibility, media scandal is an immense risk that threatens to destroy the lives of people who have become the focus of public attention. The paper is concerned with the question of how the individual is affected by the attention when the media hype a story.

Empirically, it is based upon in-depth interviews with Swedish persons who have been in the epicenter of scandals, causing headline news, day after day, week after week. In their stories we find answers on seldom posed questions within this particular field of interest, as how it feels to publicly and repeatedly be called a liar, an imposter, or a thief, and be confronted with pictures of oneself underneath these headlines. That the personal consequences of media scandals are severe may not be to any surprise, but the paper explores the relatively unknown dimensions of damage for the individual and puts new light on the eternal scientific question of media power. The interviewees had a hard time (to put it mildly) during the weeks when the scandal was revealed in multiple media channels all over the country, but when the journalists put the story aside, in favour of other stories, and when we –as regular media consumers– have forgotten about the whole issue, a new painful phase begins for the victim. They bear witness of a prolonged suffering that ends approximately three years after the first outbreak.

Through phenomenological, existential and anthropological theories, the paper analyses how a media scandal can shatter the lifeworld into fragments, difficult to interpret. Because, who am I, if I am not the one I thought I was, and that everyone else seems to be convinced I never was?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventThe Mediation of Scandal and Moral Outrage - Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 2011 Dec 16 → …
https://communicationanddemocracy.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/ecrea_at_lse_2011_programme.pdf (Event programme)


ConferenceThe Mediation of Scandal and Moral Outrage
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period2011/12/16 → …
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Media Studies


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