Journalists as actors in social dramas of apology

Zohar Kampf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


During recent decades, the abundance of apologies made by public actors has lent credence to the claim that we are living in the age of apology. The extensive coverage of these gestures by the press in many cases aroused heated public struggles over the norm transgressed and the future of the transgressor in the public arena. This article analyzes the reasons for the interest taken by journalists in covering and generating apology discourse, the active role played by them at each stage of what I term 'social dramas of apology' (SDA), and the professional implications stemming from their involvement. The study analyzes 559 SDA that emerged in Israeli public discourse from 1997 to 2004. The findings suggest that journalists' active involvement takes various forms. Journalists (1) frame actions as transgressions, (2) play the role of instigator, or, the arbitrator, and (3) help the public to determine whether transgressors should be incorporated back into the social structure. Lastly, it is suggested that journalists' active participation in SDA entails some challenging ethical implications.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)71-87
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • apologies
  • journalistic practices
  • media discourse
  • norms enforcement
  • social drama


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