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Living with scandal, rumour, and gossip

This book illuminates the personal experience of being at the centre of a media scandal. The existential level of that experience is highlighted by means of the application of ethnological and phenomenological perspectives to extensive empirical material drawn from a Swedish context. The questions raised and answered in this book include the following: How does the experience of being the protagonist in a media scandal affect a person’s everyday life? What happens to routines, trust, and self-confidence? How does it change the basic settings of his or her lifeworld?

The analysis also contributes new perspectives on the fusion between interpersonal communication that takes place face to face, such as gossip and rumours, and traditional news media in the course of a scandal. A scandal derives its momentum from the audiences, whose engagement in the moral story determines its dissemination and duration. The nature of that engagement also affects the protagonist in specific ways. Members of the public participate through traditional oral communication, one vital aspect of which is activity in digital, social forums.

The author argues that gossip and rumour must be included in the idea of the media system if we are to be able to understand the formation and power of a media scandal, a contention which entails critiques of earlier research. Oral interpersonal communication does not disappear when new communication possibilities arise. Indeed, it may be invigorated by them. The term news legend is introduced, to capture the entanglement between traditional news-media storytelling and oral narrative.

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phenomenon in question. This is one of the things that the present book will demonstrate. What is unique about the stories of the fictive character Katharina Blum and the real-life Anthony Weiner is that they succeed in illuminating dimensions of media scandals that have escaped the attention of many people, not least scholars: the scandals in no way play out in the media only; they find their sustenance, their breath of life, outside the media, in regular everyday conversations and interactions between people. Ultimately this deficiency has to do with a limited

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which people must relate can be communicated through signs, whereas a considerably greater part of our understanding of the circumstances and restrictions of the community happens through informal talk, for instance in the form of gossip. The media scandal as a phenomenon is good at revealing these often unspoken and emotionally regulated cultural agreements. It makes the boundaries of cultural life visible, allowing us to examine those boundaries by talking about them and exploring them emotionally together. The precise location of the boundaries distinguishing the

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this chapter is on how interpersonal communication influences and interacts with mediated communication. The overall question is: How is a media scandal possible? Through which media is it created? The text is divided into two parts: a detailed historical analysis and an analysis of a contemporary case. The point of departure is located in historical material, consisting of secondary sources in the form of literature, together with primary sources in the form of interview material and present-day media sources. Mediated orality The seminal work on the topic of media

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3 Floorball Dad This chapter is different from the others. This is partly because the main figure in the case that is described in detail here is an anonymous private individual, partly because the story can be included in the concept of public shaming,1 with some folkloristic elements, rather than in that of a media scandal, although the two are related. Even so, the material is suitable for illustrating enduring relations between the local and the mediated, between text and talk, and between journalism and gossip. The phenomenon of public shaming is growing

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Security Service] that told them they weren’t allowed to do that, so they stopped doing it. They took photographs into the building, into the flat. (M27102) The pressure of the media is, as we already know, very great indeed in the initial phase of a media scandal. All the affected people and their partners told me in great detail about how bad they felt during the initial hunt, which is generally a downright physical experience. Among other things, these people supplied accounts about worry, anxiety, fear, sleep problems, and loss of appetite, as well as about physical

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Social Democrats, which governed Sweden for so long – had such a brief and scandal-dominated career. Besides, some of the journalists I met had studied Juholt closely, both during the time of the media scandal and afterwards.1 In this chapter, as in the others, attention is also given to a number of Swedish journalists whom I have not interviewed, but who have discussed and problematised the media-scandal phenomenon in various contexts within the framework of public debate. The objectivity talisman Having worked as a journalist myself for many years, I regard the use

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time when professional, public, and political actors had grown concerned about the competence of medical professionals. Professional self-reflection emerged from a cacophony of sources, from media scandals about insensitive care in long-stay institutions to growing critiques of welfare professionals as self-interested bureaucrats (rather than altruistic servants), and from academic studies of variations in care to the rising status of trials as technologies for determining ‘best practice’. All contributed to a growing sense that quality care could be secured only

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