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Only a tiny proportion of the cultural regulatory system to which people must relate can be communicated through signs in the street or in law regulations. 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 reveals 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. What the book has brought out is the circular character of the news food chain where gossip, journalism, the exercise of public authority, and political considerations form an intricate network, without clear hierarchies or directions for the flows of information. In this sense, gossip-influenced and gossip-dependent journalism is not by definition bad or inferior. Undoubtedly, more studies on news journalism need to be conducted with respect to its oral, informal methods – not least now, in the midst of the shift of journalism from industrial production to an emotionally charged networked environment.

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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This chapter is different from the others. This is partly because the main figure in the case that is described in detail is an anonymous private individual, partly because the story can be included in the concept of public shaming, with some folkloristic elements, rather than in that of a media scandal, although the two are related. The material is suitable for illustrating enduring relations between the local and the medial, between text and talk, and between journalism and gossip. The concept news legend is introduced, to pinpoint the narrative contagion and passing-down that take place among journalists and other news providers, in cooperation with the news audiences.

in Exposed

In this part of the book, the analysis of the relationship between the interpersonal and the mediated dimension of the public scandal is taken a step further. The chapter shows that these dimensions are more or less interwoven, a circumstance to which media researchers have not paid much attention because they have usually chosen to focus on the media themselves, employing a narrow definition of the ‘media’ concept. The overall question is: How is a media scandal possible, and through which media is it created? On close examination, it becomes clear that scandals have been mediated for centuries, and that general person-to-person conversations about them have played a notable part in that process. In a historical perspective, the oral distribution of news should in point of fact be considered a form of mediation.

in Exposed

This part of the book presents fundamental themes in the interviews with the central figures of the scandals and their partners. Several respondents testified to how their previously ‘given’ existence was transformed into an unfamiliar and terrifying chaos where nothing was the same. Every one of the affected people testified individually to tangible feelings of unreality and loneliness in the wake of the media scandal, a loneliness that was both voluntarily chosen and forced on them. Many of them dwelt on the experience of being stared at. Some people with a superficial or non-existent relationship to the protagonist of the drama seemed to respond to the scandal by staring intently at the scandalised person from a distance. Others demonstratively averted their eyes. It is a function on the part of the scandal, the author argues, that it causes guilt and shame in the affected individual as well as a feeling of being deprived of dignity in the full glare of publicity. Scandals are shame- and degradation-rituals, symbolic occasions where people are exiled into the guild of the guilty.

in Exposed
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The introduction provides a detailed survey of existing research in the media-scandal domain. The author’s own perspectives are introduced, with an emphasis on ethnological and phenomenological theories which demonstrate the importance of understanding the scandal as a cultural phenomenon. The purpose is partly to explore the emotional experience of being the main figure of a media scandal, partly to study the complex media system that creates the scandal. What does the scandal feel like for the person who is affected by it, and what can these emotions teach us about both people and media? This book brings out more or less forgotten universal human existential aspects of media scandals, among other things by paying attention to the emotions of the affected parties.

in Exposed

To a greater extent than the preceding chapters, this one deals with journalism and politics as arenas and examines how the two of them interact today. Through analysis of qualitative interviews with Swedish high-profile journalists, it paints a complex picture of the relationships of reporters to the emotions that the exercise of their profession may evoke. Special attention is given to journalistic culture – the normative cement that creates coherence and meaning in the everyday lives of journalists, where spoken or silent agreements, rules, and routines govern journalistic work and the production of news. Many journalists are aware of being caught up in behaviour based on group pressure and a common driving force, rather than on individual reflection and critical consideration, when a scandal is in the offing.

in Exposed
Art, authorship and activism

This book charts and analyses the work of Oliver Stone – arguably one of the foremost political filmmakers in Hollywood during the last thirty years. Drawing on previously unseen production files from Oliver Stone’s personal archives and hours of interviews both with Stone and a range of present and former associates within the industry, the book employs a thematic structure to explore Stone’s life and work in terms of war, politics, money, love and corporations. This allows the authors both to provide a synthesis of earlier and later film work as well as locate that work within Stone’s developing critique of government. The book explores the development of aesthetic changes in Stone’s filmmaking and locates those changes within ongoing academic debates about the relationship between film and history as well as wider debates about Hollywood and the film industry. All of this is explored with detailed reference to the films themselves and related to a set of wider concerns that Stone has sought to grapple with -the American Century, exceptionalism and the American Dream, global empire, government surveillance and corporate accountability. The book concludes with a perspective on Stone’s ‘brand’ as not just an auteur and commercially viable independent filmmaker but as an activist arguing for a very distinct kind of American exceptionalism that seeks a positive role for the US globally whilst eschewing military adventurism.

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The chapter notes that Stone’s interests in social critique and politics have carried him some way ahead of art and commerce into the territory that can best be summed up as activism. Each of his films has been a piece of crafted drama with a range of distinctive attributes related to narrative and photography acting as a baseline for Stone’s auteur brand. What is striking, however, in the second period of his career, is the way those core elements of the auteur brand did not merely become retroactive career artefacts for a media narrative seeing his auteur heyday as belonging to the past. Stone’s auteurism acted instead as a platform for a political discourse that retained as much urgency and purpose as films like Salvador and JFK had in his early career.

in The cinema of Oliver Stone
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This chapter traces two key threads in Stone’s exploration of corporations and their impact on wider society; one to do with the media, and the other concerning government. The first part of this chapter examines Talk Radio and Any Given Sunday exploring how and why the critique of corporations manifest itself in a particular way during this era. The chapter then considers the critique of mainstream media organisations offered in documentaries like Comandante and the Untold History series towards anything that might constitute a provocation to the dominant national narratives, before returning to consider what W., Wall Street: MNS and Savages had to say about corporate and government accountability.

in The cinema of Oliver Stone