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Power Without Responsibility (JN 500). Scandal and the Decline of Deference Case Study: Profumo Affair. Lecture Outline. Scandal, Sleaze and the News The Decline of Deference Case Study: Profumo Affair. 1. Scandal , Sleaze and the News. Scandals are newsworthy because:

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Power without responsibility jn 500

Power Without Responsibility (JN 500)

Scandal and the Decline of Deference

Case Study: Profumo Affair


Lecture outline
Lecture Outline

  • Scandal, Sleaze and the News

  • The Decline of Deference

  • Case Study: Profumo Affair


1 scandal sleaze and the news
1. Scandal, Sleaze and the News

  • Scandals are newsworthy because:

    • They have the human interest value of high-profile individuals;

    • They are unusual events that rupture regular political process;

    • They have a high degree of clarity and are unambiguous; and

    • They are negative events that foster conflict and drama (Craig 2004, p. 19).


1 scandal sleaze and the news1
1. Scandal, Sleaze and the News

  • News media scrutiny of scandals ensures a high degree of accountability.

  • Alternatively, the random nature of scandals, their unpredictable and often quickly forgotten narratives, and focus on individuals rather than process and political structures can detract from quality journalism and public understanding.


1 scandal sleaze and the news2
1. Scandal, Sleaze and the News

  • “The increasing political role of scandals is consonant with a political system where disclosure rather than argument and analysis is the main activity. The news media are relatively weak and erratic conveyors of policy debates and performance, but are powerful narrators of concrete evens and effective portrayers of the drama of conflict” (Tiffen 1999, p. 252).


1 scandal sleaze and the news3
1. Scandal, Sleaze and the News

  • News offers definitions and management of social deviance: “The defining characteristic of journalism is that it visualizes deviance and control as these relate to visions of social order and change” (Erikson, Baranek and Chan 1987, p. 8).


1 scandal sleaze and the news4
1. Scandal, Sleaze and the News

  • Dismiss stories of scandal and sleaze as peripheral to the real business of reporting politics?

  • Or do such stories have political legitimacy because they focus on the character of individual political leaders, raising issues of trust?


1 scandal sleaze and the news5
1. Scandal, Sleaze and the News

  • Franklin is critical of sleaze and scandal reportage at expense of parliamentary reportage.

  • McNair says “sleaze journalism can, and with normative democratic principles in mind, should be viewed as the welcome by-product of an era when journalistic deference toward political elites has been eroded, and the normative watchdog function of the Fourth Estate is increasingly applied…” (2000, p. 54)


1 scandal sleaze and the news6
1. Scandal, Sleaze and the News

  • Scandal and sleaze continue to be a significant part of the political news landscape.

  • Expenses scandal (2009) broke by Daily Telegraph journalists after leaks and FOI requests. Resulted in resignation of Speaker Michael Martin, and resignations of Ministers and MPs.


2 the decline of deference
2. The Decline of Deference

  • The decline of deference refers to the challenge to, and breakdown of, political and social hierarchies from the 1950s and 1960s.

  • Robin Day’s political interviews from the mid-1950s challenged political elites in new and powerful way. In 1958 the interview of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan described as “the most vigorous cross-examination a prime minister has been subjected to in public.”


2 the decline of deference1
2. The Decline of Deference

  • As we have previously noted, the 1960s saw rise of current affairs programming and political news satire programmes, such as That Was The Week That Was.


2 the decline of deference2
2. The Decline of Deference

  • The decline of deference has helped with the rise of a more independent journalism that is critical of all sections of society and investigates without fear or favour. Question of whether it has also contributed to diminishing regard for politicians and other public figures?


3 case study profumo affair
3. Case Study: ProfumoAffair

  • 1963 political scandal involving John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War, who had an affair with Christine Keeler, who was alleged to have also been the mistress of a Soviet spy.


3 case study profumo affair1
3. Case Study: Profumo Affair

  • Profumo later admitted he lied to the House of Commons about the relationship and he resigned. The affair seriously damaged the government of Harold Macmillan.


References
References

  • Craig, G. (2004) The Media, Politics and Public Life. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

  • Ericson, R.V, P. Baranek & J.B.L. Chan (1987) Visualizing Deviance: A study of news organization. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

  • Franklin B. (1997) “From the gallery to the gutter: Changing newspaper reporting of parliament.”Newszak & News Media. London: Arnold.

  • McNair, B. (2000) Journalism and Democracy: An evaluation of the political public sphere. London: Routledge.

  • Tiffen, R. (1999) Scandals: Media, politics and corruption in contemporary Australia. Sydney: UNSW Press.


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