Advertisement

Wrongful Conviction, Pop Culture, and Achieving Justice in the Digital Age

  • Greg StrattonEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture book series (PSCMC)

Abstract

The pop culture success of Serial (podcast) and Making a Murderer (Netflix) have exposed a significant, receptive audience to the true crime genre of entertainment. The producers of these series embraced the transformative effective of digital technologies that have shifted the media landscape by altering audience’s consumption and engagement with content. Digital technologies have also created the opportunities for these audiences to commit to online ‘participatory practices’ supporting the claims of wrongful convictions via social media. This chapter explores how digital media converge with narratives of wrongful conviction to develop public perceptions of miscarriages of justice. By focusing on the relationships between content, audience, and perceptions of justice, a clearer understanding of how notions of justice can be discussed in contemporary popular culture is explored.

Keywords

Wrongful conviction Making a Murderer Serial Innocence Public narratives Digital criminology 

References

  1. Allan, S. (2013). Citizen Witnessing: Revisioning Journalism in Times of Crisis. Key Concepts in Journalism. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  2. Barak, G. (2007). Mediatizing Law and Order: Applying Cottle’s Architecture of Communicative Frames to the Social Construction of Crime and Justice. Crime, Media, Culture, 3(1), 101–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beckett, K., & Sasson, T. (2000). The Politics of Injustice: Crime and Punishment in America. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, R. (2015). A Golden Age of Podcasting? Evaluating Serial in the Context of Podcast Histories. Journal of Radio & Audio Media, 22(2), 170–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buozis, M. (2017). Giving Voice to the Accused: Serial and the Critical Potential of True Crime. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 14(3), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chaudry, R. (2014). Split the Moon. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/splitthemoon/author/rchaudry/
  7. Cochran, T. (2012). ‘Past the Brink of Tacit Support’: Fan Activism and the Whedonverses. Transformative Works and Cultures, 10. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/331
  8. Comor, E. (2010). Contextualizing and Critiquing the Fantastic Prosumer: Power, Alienation and Hegemony. Critical Sociology, 37(3), 309–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dean, M. (2014, December 12). Serial Nears Its End, But the Reddit Detectives Keep Working. The Guardian [Online]. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/dec/11/serial-nears-end-reddit-detectives-keep-working
  10. Demos, M., & Ricciardi, L. (2015). Making a Murderer. A Netflix Original Documentary. Los Angeles, CA: Synthesis Films. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from https://www.netflix.com/title/80000770
  11. Deuze, M., Bruns, A., & Neuberger, C. (2007). Preparing for an Age of Participatory News. Journalism Practice, 1(3), 322–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dimitrov, R. (2008). Gender Violence, Fan Activism and Public Relations in Sport: The Case of ‘Footy Fans Against Sexual Assault’. Public Relations Review, 34(2), 90–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Doane, B., Mccormick, K., & Sorce, G. (2017). Changing Methods for Feminist Public Scholarship: Lessons from Sarah Koenig’s Podcast Serial. Feminist Media Studies, 17(1), 119–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dredge, S. (2014, November 18). Serial Podcast Breaks iTunes Records as it Passes 5m Downloads and Streams. The Guardian [Online]. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/18/serial-podcast-itunes-apple-downloads-streams
  15. Eakin, M. (2014, November 14). Introducing The Serial Serial, The A.V. Club’s New Podcast about Serial. The AV Club [Online]. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from https://aux.avclub.com/introducing-the-serial-serial-the-a-v-club-s-new-podc-1798274047
  16. Earl, J., & Kimport, K. (2009). Movement Societies and Digital Protest: Fan Activism and Other Nonpolitical Protest Online. Sociological Theory, 27(3), 220–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ettema, J., & Glasser, T. (1988). Narrative Form and Moral Force: The Realization of Innocence and Guilt through Investigative Journalism. Journal of Communication, 38(3), 8–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Findley, K., & Golden, L. (2014). The Innocence Movement, the Innocence Network, and Policy Reform. In M. Zalman & J. Carrano (Eds.), Wrongful Conviction and Criminal Justice Reform: Making Justice (pp. 93–110). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Fuhs, K. (2018). ‘The Dramatic Idea of Justice’: Wrongful Conviction, Documentary Television, and The Court of Last Resort. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 38(1), 179–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gamerman, E. (2014, November 13). ‘Serial’ Podcast Catches Fire. The Wall Street Journal [Online]. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/serial-podcast-catches-fire-1415921853
  22. Haggerty, K. (2009). Modern Serial Killers. Crime, Media, Culture, 5(2), 168–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Harkness, R. (2016, May 8). ‘Making a Murderer’ Fans have Found More Evidence Which may Help Prove Steven Avery’s Innocence. Uproxx [Online]. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from https://uproxx.com/tv/making-a-murderer-bird-bones-teresa-halbach-remains/
  24. Innes, M. (2004a). Signal Crimes and Signal Disorders: Notes on Deviance as Communicative Action 1. The British Journal of Sociology, 55(3), 335–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Innes, M. (2004b). Crime as a Signal, Crime as a Memory. Journal for Crime, Conflict and the Media, 1(2), 15–22.Google Scholar
  26. iTunesCharts.net. (2015). This American Life—‘Serial’: American iTunes Chart Performance. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://www.itunescharts.net/us/artists/podcast/this-american-life/podcasts/serial/
  27. Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Jenkins, H. (2012). ‘Cultural Acupuncture’: Fan Activism and the Harry Potter Alliance. Transformative Works and Cultures, 10. Retrieved June 24, 2018, from http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/305/259
  29. Jenkins, H. (2014). Rethinking ‘Rethinking Convergence/Culture’. Cultural Studies, 28(2), 267–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jenkins, H., & Deuze, M. (2008). Editorial. Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 14(1), 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jewkes, Y. (2004). Media and Crime. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Koenig, S., & Snyder, J. (2014). (Producers). Serial [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from https://serialpodcast.org/
  33. Leo, R. (2005). Rethinking the Study of Miscarriages of Justice: Developing a Criminology of Wrongful Conviction. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 21(3), 201–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lynch, J. (2016, February 11). Over 19 Million Viewers in the U.S. Watched Making a Murderer in Its First 35 Days. Adweek [Online]. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://www.adweek.com/news/television/over-8-million-viewers-uswatched-making-murderer-its-first-35-days-169602
  35. Macdonald, A. (Ed.). (2013). Murders and Acquisitions: Representations of the Serial Killer in Popular Culture. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  36. Marsh, L. (2016). Murder, They Wrote. Dissent, 63(2), 6–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McCracken, E. (2017). The Serial Commodity: Rhetoric, Recombination, and Indeterminacy in the Digital Age. In E. McCracken (Ed.), The ‘Serial’ Podcast and Storytelling in the Digital Age (pp. 60–77). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Medwed, D. (2006). Anatomy of a Wrongful Conviction: Theoretical Implications and Practical Solutions. Villanova Law Review, 51(2), 340–378.Google Scholar
  39. Mittell, J. (2015). Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
  40. Norris, R. (2017a). Framing DNA: Social Movement Theory and the Foundations of the Innocence Movement. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 33(1), 26–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Norris, R. (2017b). Exonerated: A History of the Innocence Movement. New York: NYU Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Peelo, M. (2005). Crime and the Media: Public Narratives and Private Consumption. In M. Peelo & K. Soothill (Eds.), In Questioning Crime and Criminology (pp. 20–36). Cullompton: Willan.Google Scholar
  43. Peelo, M. (2006). Framing Homicide Narratives in Newspapers: Mediated Witness and the Construction of Virtual Victimhood. Crime, Media, Culture, 2(2), 159–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pew Research Center Journalism Project. (2012). How Blogs, Twitter and Mainstream Media Have Handled the Trayvon Martin Case. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://www.journalism.org/2012/03/30/special-report-how-blogs-twitter-and-mainstream-media-have-handled-trayvon-m/
  45. Powell, A., Stratton, G., & Cameron, R. (2018). Digital Criminology: Crime and Justice in Digital Society (p. Routledge). New York.Google Scholar
  46. Ritzer, G., & Jurgenson, N. (2010). Production, Consumption, Prosumption. Journal of Consumer Culture, 10(1), 13–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Robinson, J. (2014). Hollywood Wants to Make a Movie Out of Serial. But Should They? Retrieved March 25, 2018, from https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2014/11/serial-made-into-a-movie
  48. Rodriguez, N. (2017). Digital Pitchforks: Justice Gone-Wrong Narratives in Popular Culture. In C. Madere (Ed.), Viewpoints on Media Effects: Pseudo-reality and Its Influence on Media Consumers (pp. 133–148). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  49. Saturday Night Live. (2014). Serial: The Christmas Surprise—SNL [Video]. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATXbJjuZqbc
  50. Scardaville, M. (2005). Accidental Activists Fan Activism in the Soap Opera Community. American Behavioral Scientist, 48(7), 881–901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Snyder, J., & Vinjamuri, L. (2004). Trials and Errors: Principle and Pragmatism in Strategies of International Justice. International Security, 28, 5–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stanley, S. (2017). “What We Know”: Convicting Narratives in NPR’s Serial. In E. McCracken (Ed.), The ‘Serial’ Podcast and Storytelling in the Digital Age (pp. 78–92). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Stevenaverycase.org. (2018). Steven Avery Trial Transcripts and Documents [Online]. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://www.stevenaverycase.org/
  54. Stratton, G. (2012). Mystery, Ethnicity, and the Ideal Victim: Phillip Walsham’s Death. Communication, Culture & Critique, 5(2), 252–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stratton, G. (2013). Innocent Narratives: Wrongful Conviction, Australian Story and the Influence on Public Opinion. Continuum, 27(6), 875–885.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stratton, G. (2015). Transforming the Central Park Jogger into the Central Park Five: Shifting Narratives of Innocence and Changing Media Discourse in the Attack on the Central Park Jogger, 1989–2014. Crime, Media, Culture, 11(3), 281–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tarrow, S. (1998). Power in Movement: Social Movement and Contentious Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tilly, C. (2004). Social Movements: 1768–2004. London: Paradigm.Google Scholar
  59. Yardley, E., Lynes, A., Wilson, D., & Kelly, E. (2016). What’s the Deal with ‘Websleuthing’? News Media Representations of Amateur Detectives in Networked Spaces. Crime, Media, Culture, 14(1), 81–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations