Patterns of media coverage repeated in online abuse on high-profile criminal cases

Carolina Are*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


What relationship do the mainstream media have with online abuse on high-profile criminal cases? This article hopes to make a start at answering this question by examining tweets with a hashtag utilisted by a highly engaged community of users to comment on all matters related to an unsolved, high-profile criminal case. Through an experimental digital ethnography blending elements of content and discourse analysis, this research has observed the conversation in question and analysed 500 tweets with the hashtag, observing that some of the most offensive theories posted by users on Twitter reprised themes seen in the mainstream media at the time of the disappearance, which resulted in defamation lawsuits by the people involved and in complaints about unethical reporting at the Leveson Inquiry. This raises questions about the mainstream media’s responsibility and duty of care towards people they report on in the digital age, and showcases a symbiotic yet diffident relationship between anti-establishment online users and traditional news media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2692-2710
Issue number11
Early online date14 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


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