Serial killing and celebrity : the importance of victim narrative in crime news reporting and its effect on the families of multiple homicide victims

Tolputt, Harriet A. (2016) Serial killing and celebrity : the importance of victim narrative in crime news reporting and its effect on the families of multiple homicide victims. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Serial murder and celebrity go hand-in-hand. Newspapers, films, books - both fact and fiction - and television programmes all illustrate the public’s fascination with crime. Academics are no exception. However, it is the killers themselves who are usually the stars, both in research and fiction. This thesis argues that it is the victims and their families that propel the narrative and are the real storytellers. This research explores the complex nature of the relationship between the families and the media, and how the relatives coped with being under the media spotlight. It also details how the victims’ narrative contributed to the increased media attention and what benefits this might bring. Using thematic analysis, informed by grounded theory and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, the thesis concludes that, counter to public perception, the relationship between victim families and the media is not purely extractive and is in fact mutually beneficial. Interviews with ten people who lost relatives to serial murder show that journalists provide a role as a quasitherapist, and reveal how families manipulate the media in a way similar to seasoned public relations professionals. While themes involving negative interactions were expected, it was noted that there were also positives for families affected by serial murder engaging with the media.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Original contribution to knowledge: This research adds an original contribution to the knowledge base of the phenomenon of serial killing, and of the complex relationship between serial killing and ‘newsworthiness’ and the effect of media coverage on victims’ families. Acknowledgments: I would like to give special thanks to Professor David Wilson for convincing me to return to academia while we waited for police to catch the killer of five women in Suffolk. And to my family, friends and colleagues, who over the last six years have repeatedly asked – have you finished it yet?
28 July 2016Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Serial murder, media, victim, IPA, journalist, serial homicide, Harold Shipman, Robert Black, Peter Tobin, Jack the Stripper, Steve Wright, Suffolk Strangler
Subjects: CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-02 - sociology
CAH16 - law > CAH16-01 - law > CAH16-01-01 - law
CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-04 - journalism
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2019 11:37
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:20

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