BRING ME A SCANDAL A DAY
We are experiencing a succession of scandals involving high profile individuals and core institutions. An example of this is movie mogul Harvey Weinstein who has been ‘named and shamed’ as a prolific sex abuser. Hollywood has been rocked to the core. The term scandal has become ubiquitous within news and social media reporting. Despite its growing prevalence, scandal activation has been subjected to little criminological analysis. This is surprising given that the existing research indicates that scandals have a destructive impact on the reputational standing, credibility and legitimacy of individuals and institutions and fuel a pervasive climate of suspicion.
City criminologists are researching why and how scandals break and with what impact. They argue that scandal has been transformed from a periodic news phenomenon focused on isolated individualised incidents of corruption, incompetence or immorality to an agenda setting news genre aggressively portraying an institutional crisis in which corruption, incompetence or immorality are deemed to be systemic.
The floodgates have now opened, categories of behaviour deemed potentially scandalous have widened and as a result every high profile individual and institution runs the risk of reputation damaging scandalous accusations. The ubiquity of scandal news today means that news agencies can also decide which scandals to activate and can do so as a means of ‘doing’ moral politics and in order to advance particular ideological agendas. As a result we are witnessing the commodification of scandal as a primary news product and the aggressive pursuit of scandal through a permanent state of scandal-hunting, in the context of a digitally networked 24/7 visibility.