A scribbling tribe: Reporting political scandal in Britain and Spain

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Comparative research is uniquely able to address theoretical questions about the relationship between journalism and political and cultural contexts. This study takes the reporting of political scandal as the entry-point to an analysis of the practice of investigative reporting in Britain and Spain in the 1990s and its status as a litmus test for a Fourth Estate understanding of the press’ role. Using interview and documentary data, the research explores journalists’ backgrounds, their assumptions about methods, relationships to sources and their perception of the public, political and peer response to their work. Journalists’ views of the rationale for reporting political scandal are also explored. The analysis shows that there are a number of differences between the two groups of journalists but also that they are bound far more by common assumptions about the practices and purposes of reporting political scandal, which, taken together, provide a challenge to certain aspects of the production study research tradition and also evidence for the enduring influence of Fourth Estate understandings of the role of journalism across national contexts.

Sanders, K., & Canel, M. J. (2006). A scribbling tribe: Reporting political scandal in Britain and Spain. Journalism, 7(4), 453-476.

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