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Scandals in New Media Environments

08.08.2019 11:46 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

April 2- 4, 2020

University of Bamberg

Deadline: September 30, 2019

3rd International Conference  in Scandalogy

The conference will focus on “Scandals in New Media Environments”. The  overarching theme serves a two-fold goal: On the one hand, we want to  intensify research on mediated scandals(cf. Entman 2012; Burkhardt 2018)  and substantiate our understanding of such forms of scandals and their  impact on societies. On the other hand, we hope to connect the study of  scandals with a larger scientific community in the broad field of  digital communication research, be it in organizational communication,  journalism studies, political communication research or other fields. 

Even to the casual observer of media and society the conference theme  appears timely because currently we seem to be living through an age of  perpetual scandalization. Arguably, digital technologies are a catalyst  in this respect. On an everyday basis, we can observe how social media  offers new means to vent emotional attacks, spark outrage, or voice  public discontent. Not only politicians, celebrities, and other  individuals in the media spotlight are subject to such firestorms.  Increasingly, ordinary citizens experience intensifying levels of  digital slander and character attacks online as well. In many cases, the  cause are simply gaffes or a careless public remark. 

The increasingly low threshold by which such incidents become the  subject of scandalous media coverage has been a matter of critique. It  may be a significant feature of an overall trend in the tabloidization  of culture and the rise of infotainment. Some authors even speak of  “unleashed scandals” (Pörksen & Detel 2012) in such “hybrid media  systems” (Chadwick 2013). 

Such scandals typically have a rather short communicative half-life  period, but may have gained a new quality through the rise of social  media and digital technologies. In this respect, participatory digital  publics can create a ‘spill-over’-effect so that the consequences of a  public gaffe may incite a more substantiated discourse in the political  system and in conventional journalistic mass media. On the other hand,  the scandalizing potential of new media requires modified strategies of  reputation management by politicians, celebrities, institutions and  corporations. 

Against this backdrop, we should inquire if we are witnessing a  transformation of mediated scandals through digital communication  practices. If so, what will be the consequences for dealing with future  scandals and cultural affairs? 

Yet, new media also offers a different perspective on journalism and  scandals as technological infrastructure and digital tools give  journalists new means to investigate hard scandals like substantial  financial or political wrongdoings. One example is the work of the  International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the  publication of the Panama Papers or the Paradise Papers respectively.  Such reporting can rely on data-driven analyses and may incite political  change, if further actors like online news sites, whistleblower  platforms or ordinary users comment such cases and share information. 

However, rather often these exposés do not substantiate a due process of  scandalization and fail to bring reform. If so, we should ask why  traditional reporting on scandals, despite new means of collaboration  and research, may have lost its effectiveness. 

To tackle these issues we believe that our conference theme should bring  the practitioners’ perspective into the academic field as well: Often,  journalists are limited to describing scandal cases and criticizing  scandalized actors, instead of reflecting a potential lack of (or too  much) response by the public. Possibly, academic research and journalism  could alleviate this deficit, if both fields would be more sensitive to  technological and social characteristics of new media in the process of  scandalization. We assume that professional communicators could provide  an important perspective to this as well. For example marketing- and  campaign-experts who evoke scandals with strategic goals in mind, or  media spokespersons who have to deal with online scandalization and  mitigate its consequences. Therefore, we also invite contributions that  are not limited to the academic field but deal with practical aspects of  scandals and digital media. 

Therefore, possible submissions for this conference may focus on:

  • scandals in Social Network Sites and their ‘spill-over’-effects,  i. e. amplifications/ catalysts between online and offline media 
  • users as opinion-leaders and scandalizers 
  • tabloidization and scandals in online media 
  • investigative journalism, whistleblowing and the datafication  of scandals 
  • pitfalls of crisis communication in digital environments and  online firestorms 
  • the power of algorithms (e. g. filter bubbles) in the reception  of scandal cases 

However, to understand scandals in new media environments, we also  suggest broadening the scope of our scientific analysis. Arguably,  scandals occur in every culture and at all times in human history, thereby constituting a part of our species’ social evolution. We would  like to encourage submissions that cover the historical perspective as  well. This can help us to understand how new media of the past (ancient  theatre, early modern pamphlets, bourgoise mass media, cinema,  television, etc.) allowed groups to effectively mediate social events  which involved the breaching of certain moral or legal codes and helped  to determine how to elicit a public response. 

Additional topics may include:

  • theoretical implications of scandals and the emergence of new  media technologies 
  • historical case studies analyzing the relationship between  scandalization and new communication channels and forums 

Information about paper submissions

Abstracts should not exceed 300 words. Please include an additional  short biographical note of no more than 150 words. 

As the selection of abstracts will be peer-reviewed anonymously, we ask  contributors to include a separate title page containing title,  author/s, affiliation/s, and the address, phone, fax, and e-mail of the  first author. 

Peer reviewers will evaluate all submissions based on relevance and  originality, clarity of research purpose, grounding of theoretical and  methodological approach, focus, and organization. 

We plan a publication of selected articles in a collected volume (most  likely with the Herbert von Halem Verlag  ) 

Please email abstracts to  by September 30 2019.  You will receive a notification by November 8th 2019. 


Confirmed keynote speaker is Jan Fleischhauer. It is a pleasure and an  honor to welcome Jan Fleischhauer, one of the leading German columnists  (FOCUS, DER SPIEGEL) and a regular guest in national talk shows. 

Fleischhauer is an engaged and stridently argumentative publicist. He  will give personal insights how journalists can endure heated public  debates, character attacks and scandals in digital media environments. 



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