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The crisis of democratic culture?This piece assesses the risk of disinformation primarily, but not exclusively, in the Anglo-American context. It unpicks assumptions behind post-truth and fake news; considers precedents for disinformation and queries the extent of its novelty. Are these manageable challenges to democratic cultures or a crisis? It concludes that whatever the terminological tangles, industrialized disinformation signal threats to the public sphere, threats underscored by historical events highlighting the vulnerability of democracy. Yet threats to democratic systems have not deleted their scrutinizing capabilities from below (voters) and from above (the legislature). Therefore challenges, for all their potency and potential, have not yet reached crisis.
Media waves and moral panicking: The case of the FIFA World Cup 2010As with previous international sporting events, the threat of human trafficking quickly became part of public consciousness during the lead up to the World Cup. Out of 350 articles covering human trafficking in South African newspapers between 2006 and 2010, 82 (or 24 per cent) directly linked this sporting event with human trafficking. We claim that media hypes based on constructed moral panics might be recycled in similar scenarios to that displayed during the FIFA World Cup, demonstrating the staying power of such media hypes and the utility of moral panics.