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Journalism, accountability and the possibilities for structural critique: A case study of coverage of whistleblowing

Wahl-Jorgensen, Karin ORCID: and Hunt, Joanne Rachel 2012. Journalism, accountability and the possibilities for structural critique: A case study of coverage of whistleblowing. Journalism 13 (4) , pp. 399-416. 10.1177/1464884912439135

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This article looks at the coverage of whistleblowers in the UK national press as a way of examining practices of journalistic accountability. Based on a content analysis of newspaper coverage in the period from 1997 to 2009, the study demonstrates, first of all, that whistleblowing is viewed as newsworthy and is taken seriously by the media, who mostly cover whistleblowers in neutral or positive ways. Nevertheless, the acts of whistleblowing which receive most media attention fit with the existing news agenda and prevailing social and economic trends. We further suggest that journalistic story-telling constructs narratives of whistleblowers as heroic, selfless individuals to establish the legitimacy of their claims of systemic wrongdoing in the public interest. Thus, our study ultimately demonstrates that the forms of accountability and systemic critique enabled by whistleblowing stories operate in complex and historically contingent ways.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords: accountability; investigative journalism; journalism cultures; journalism practices; myth; narrative story-telling; whistleblowers; whistleblowing
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1464-8849
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 08:38

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