The journalism scandal: When scandalization hits journalists and news media

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


Claas Relotius, the reporter from Der Spiegel, who faked stories and sources, is the most recent example of a journalism scandal and Jayson Blair, the reporter from the New York Times, who did the same, is perhaps the most famous. Since the beginning of the millennium scandals involving journalism and news have increasingly become global news stories involving countries such as Great Britain, the US, Denmark and Germany. A scandal can be defined as an action or event that is regarded as morally or legally wrong and that causes general public outrage. Research-wise many journalism scandals have been analyzed based on paradigm repair theory with the focus on how the news media caught in scandal have tried to reestablish faith and legitimacy to the journalistic para-digm after a scandal. The purpose of this paper twofold: First to link journalism scandals closer to Thompson’s (2000) scandal theory, especially in relation to questions of power and visibility and second to suggest and test a typology of journalism scandals. This typology includes: 1) The ‘pla-giarism’ scandal, 2) the ‘fabrication’ scandal, 3) The ‘hacking’ scandal and 4) the
’erroneous information’ scandal. The typology is tested on a case study of journalism scandals in Denmark from 2005 to 2018. The study finds 14 journalism scandals in the selected period: 4 pla-giarism scandals, 5 fabrication-scandals, 1 hacking-scandal and 4 erroneous-information scandals. The paper concludes by discussing the different types of scandals and how they affect journalism and trust in journalism.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date19 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2019
EventFuture of Journalism - University of Cardiff, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Sep 201913 Sep 2019


ConferenceFuture of Journalism
LocationUniversity of Cardiff
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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