Whistleblowing and media logic: a case study

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Abstract

Most analyses of whistleblowing are concerned with the whistleblower as an actor or with the act of whistleblowing itself. However, as soon as the whistleblower enters the public arena, a social dynamic emerges of interdependent actors with different responsibilities and different interests.Such a dynamic demands a more comprehensive approach in which the motives of the different actors in the public debate are taken into account.This approach is developed here using an exemplary case of whistleblowing that took place in a Dutch research institute.The intensive media attention damaged both the institute and the whistleblower.In retrospect this could have been avoided.In our analysis we give extra attention to the motives involved and to the inevitability of media logic.In order to avoid unnecessary damage we recommend guidelines to the three basic actors:the whistleblower, the organization and the media.

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