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Scandalization in the News

Karen Sanders


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Scandalization in the news refers to the apparent tendency for news content to focus on material exposing the foibles and misdemeanors of fellow citizens, especially the rich, famous, and powerful. Scandals themselves have an ancient pedigree. The original Greek terms, the noun “skandalon” and the verb “skandalizein,” refer to a spring-trap for prey, recalling the Indo-Germanic root “skand,” meaning to spring or leap. “Scandal” was used in a figurative way in the Christian Bible to describe a trap, an obstacle, or a cause of moral stumbling. Communication scholars have focused on understanding the relationship between scandal and the media. They have developed explanations related to the transformations wrought partly by changes in communication technology, including the development of a highly competitive news market and new forms of visibility and “publicness” in the contemporary world, creating opportunities as well as risks for public figures (→  Public Opinion ). They have linked these explanations to those derived from social theory, explored most thoroughly in John Thompson's work (2000) . Communication researchers have examined a number of factors contributing to the focus of news media on scandal and particularly political scandals, namely, news economy, culture, and ideology. Scholars also have debated the reasons for the prevalence in the late twentieth century of political ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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