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Political corruption, accountability and the media: A study of motives and justifications

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Tanner, SJ (1999) Political corruption, accountability and the media: A study of motives and justifications. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Political corruption, accountability and the media:
a study oi motives and justifications
This thesis is about political corruption. Specifically it is concerned
with two issues: (1) the way in which people alleged to have
committed a corrupt act seek to justify their actions; and (2) how the
media report the process of allegation and justification which
invariably occurs when such an issue becomes public. In short the
thesis is about accountability processes as they apply in Australia to
elected public officials, particularly political leaders.
The thesis uses a single case study - the so-called Metherell affair in
New South Wales - to argue that public figures will invariably
struggle to justify conduct which has been labelled corrupt. The
Metherell affair represents an important case study because it
illustrates how behaviour can be variously interpreted by different
groups and individuals. Conduct which is acceptable to some people,
for example one's political supporters, may not be acceptable to one's
political opponents. As such, individuals charged with political
corruption will seek to apply a situational morality when attempting
to justify such conduct. That task becomes even more difficult when
the individual is asked to justify his or her conduct in a separate
arena where different standards can be applied- in this case the
Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) which is
governed by its own legislation which includes a particular formallegal
definition of corrupt conduct.
Likewise, the case study provides an important insight into the
media's treatment of political corruption. Looking at the treatment of
this issue in four newspapers over four and a half months, the thesis
shows how the media was able to both inform and entertain the
reading public whilst acting fairly. The study shows that whilst the
media was critical of the Premier for sanctioning the appointment
which led to the Metherell affair, it did not consider him corrupt as
the term is popularly understood. In this sense it played an important
role in highlighting the differences between formal-legal definitions
of corruption (as applied by quasi-legal bodies like the ICAC) and
popular definitions which draw on a range of more subjective
considerations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

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Date Deposited: 21 May 2014 05:23
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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