2 Gossip, rumour, and scandals In this part of the book, the analysis of the relationship between the interpersonal and the mediated dimension of the public scandal is deepened.1 The preceding chapter made it clear that these dimensions are more or less interwoven, a circumstance to which media researchers have not paid a great deal of attention because they have, as a rule, chosen to focus on the media themselves, employing a narrow definition of the ‘media’ concept. In order to acquire an idea of the inherent mechanisms of the scandal phenomenon, the focus in

in Exposed
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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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Humanitarianism in a Post-Liberal World Order

, as we have seen with recent #MeToo scandals ( BBC, 2018a ). Also, their commitment to aid might be superficial and based around a narrow idea of life as basic subsistence, for example, rather than of the quality of the lives of those they have saved. But few modern humanitarians are likely to make a moral claim that they will save only the lives of those who look or think like them, a common occurrence in the nineteenth century. All beneficiaries have prima facie equal value. But humanitarians’ reliance on liberal world order goes much deeper

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
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despair, a desire for revenge and shame, fury and powerlessness. While Böll’s story arose from a peculiarly charged political background, it nevertheless provides insights into the possible social consequences of scandal journalism, and here I do not mean the dramatic act of vengeance carried out by Miss Blum. Four decades after the publication of Böll’s controversial book came the release of an award-winning documentary about the much-criticised American congressman Anthony Weiner. Like The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, the film, which is simply called Weiner

in Exposed

1 In the middle of the media storm This part of the book presents fundamental themes in the interviews with the central figures of the scandals and their partners. I initially focus on the changes in everyday life that each scandal involved for those affected by it and the emotions it engendered. Initially, the emphasis is on the experience of actually being at the centre of a scandal and on the feelings of loneliness, guilt, shame, grief, and anger that came to dominate the lives of several of those affected. I will use everyday life as a starting-point, where

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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

in Exposed

4 The journalists and the rabbits The moment a person assumes the role of a reporter or political commentator and views a scandal through their eyes, the character of the scandal phenomenon changes inexorably. To a greater extent than the preceding chapters, this one will deal with journalism and politics as arenas and examine how the two of them interact today. It is especially politicians who are at the centre of public scandals, and for this reason it is mainly political journalists who through their work trigger and follow the development of scandals at

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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

in Exposed

Queen Anne on stage. The concluding lines of the masque are triumphant: Force greatness all the glorious ways You can, it soon decays, But so good Fame shall never: Her triumphs, as their causes, are forever. (523–26) Frances Howard, however, was soon to demonstrate that ‘good Fame’ could decay quite rapidly, and that a ‘queen’ could easily turn into a witch. The connections between witchcraft, reputation, and rumour remain important in the next major Jacobean work of witchcraft drama, Middleton’s The Witch. Frances Howard, court scandal, and The Witch Frances

in Scepticism and belief in English witchcraft drama, 1538–1681
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Nuns’ narratives in early modern Venice

Testifying to the self 8 Testifying to the self: nuns’ narratives in early modern Venice Mary Laven In the summer of 1614, scandal erupted at San Zaccaria, the oldest and most aristocratic of the Venetian convents. Laura Querini, a noble nun in her mid-forties, was found guilty of having had sexual intercourse, repeatedly, with a young nobleman in a store-room situated on the edge of the nunnery. Testifying before Patriarch Francesco Vendramin, the head of the Venetian Church, Laura Querini told her story from the very beginning: I came to this convent as a

in Judicial tribunals in England and Europe, 1200–1700