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#AidToo: Social Media Spaces and the Transformation of the Reporting of Aid Scandals in 2018

Cooper, G. ORCID: 0000-0003-2367-8626 (2020). #AidToo: Social Media Spaces and the Transformation of the Reporting of Aid Scandals in 2018. Journalism Practice, 15(6), pp. 747-766. doi: 10.1080/17512786.2020.1851611


In 2018, sexual abuse scandals concerning Oxfam GB and Save the Children UK, which had been known about for some years in the industry, finally received widespread coverage. Applying Greer and McLaughlin’s [Greer, C., and E. McLaughlin. 2017. “Theorizing Institutional Scandal and the Regulatory State.” Theoretical Criminology 21 (2): 112–132. doi:10.1177/1362480616645648] scandal model and building on Langer and Gruber’s [Langer, A. I., and J. B. Gruber. 2020. “Political Agenda Setting in the Hybrid Media System: Why Legacy Media Still Matter a Great Deal.” The International Journal of Press/Politics. doi:10.1177/1940161220925023] work on agenda setting in a hybrid media system this paper uses in-depth interviews with whistleblowers, legacy media journalists, and those who created alternative media spacesto analyse changing aid-journalism relationships. The findings suggest the scandals were previously kept out of the public domain for several reasons: aid agencies’ use of deflective media strategies and legal threats; fears by whistleblowers that such stories could assist the conservative media’s anti-aid agenda; and unsuccessful approaches to liberal media outlets. The move from latency to amplification came about because of investigations by legacy media journalists, but also media spaces such as WhatsApp and the Fifty Shades of Aid Facebook group. These spaces allowed women to share stories and form connections and. The paper examines the transformative the interplay of legacy and social media in a hybrid system and argues for the consideration of closed as well as open social media spaces when considering the process of scandalisation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journalism Practice on 2nd December 2020, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Aid agencies; #AidToo; #MeToo; media; journalists; humanitarian; Facebook; social media
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
P Language and Literature
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Cooper AidToo proof with tables Nov 2020.pdf]
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