Research Seminar: ‘Priming Accountability: How Coverage of Media Scandal Reaffirms Faith in a Socially Responsible Press’

Can we learn from scandal? This study argues yes, by appreciating how news coverage of media lapses (‘metacoverage’) holds offenders accountable, reaffirming core principles following press failures.

Can we learn from media scandal? This talk argues we can, by studying how coverage of scandal in the wake of crisis primes accountability and other press values, shaping attitudes about media performance generally and offending organizations more specifically.

The broader project from which this work is derived examines media scandals and news dilemmas in cross-national perspective beginning with disclosures of the News of the World phone hacking scandal in the UK in 2010 and ending with the massive libel lawsuit embroiling FOX News in the US over the network’s repeated false claims of voting machine irregularities following the 2020 presidential election.

Unlike political scandals, which have received sustained scholarly examination, the subject of press misconduct has received inadequate research attention and academic analysis outside of articles and tracts about the tabloid press or lapses in journalistic ethics despite significant harms to individuals and costs to information integrity.

This project aims to rectify this deficit in understanding and identify how news coverage around media crisis works to reaffirm faith in a socially responsible press.

About the speaker

Erik Bucy is the Marshall and Sharleen Formby Regents Professor of Strategic Communication in the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University.

For the 2023-24 academic year, Bucy is appointed as a US-UK Fulbright Scholar in Communication and Media and Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Loughborough University.

His research focuses on visual political communication, news literacy, misinformation and public opinion about the press. The focus of his Fulbright research project is a book length study of media accountability and news evaluation at peak moments of press scrutiny.