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Crime & Internet Essay

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Spinning the Web: The influence of the Internet on the reporting of crime and criminal justice in traditional media

Joy Cameron-Dow, MComn

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Journalism Discipline Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Bond University
July 2009

ABSTRACT

This thesis investigates the influence of the Internet on the reporting of crime and criminal justice in traditional media, focusing on the hitherto unexplored nexus of media, crime and the Internet. The Internet as a medium acknowledges no boundaries or geographical barriers and the implications of such globally unrestricted access are far wider than the mainstream consideration of several legal and ethical ramifications that accompany reportage on an international scale. This research represents a triangulated study, based on results obtained from an analysis of Internet crime sites, a process of elite interviewing of practising journalists and academics and demonstration case studies of three high-profile crimes.

This research suggests the Internet audience wants shorter, more concise crime stories at first point of access, focusing on the main or more sensational aspects, with further background and detail available through links to the requisite multi-media facilities. These multi-media facilities often offer far more graphic detail and specificity than is available in mainstream media, particularly when the latter, constrained by such restrictions as deadlines and space, are compelled to dispense with superfluous detail, with no reader access to further information. In addition, the media theories of agenda-setting and framing undergo a noticeable transition when applied to online reporting.

Crime reports on the Internet now complement the text of their narrative with audio and visual detail, bringing the audience ever closer to the scene of the crime and, in many instances, to the perpetrator and victim, again...

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