Katrina Clifford*1, Rob White1
1 School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania
*corresponding author: Katrina.Clifford@utas.edu.au
For the most part, scholarly research and academic literature on the relationship between media and crime has derived primarily from sociological and criminological perspectives with an under-developed regard for an applied or ‘working knowledge’ of media practices, and the nuances and layers of complexity that these command and derive. The result has been a mostly one-dimensional interpretation of the media-crime nexus that over-emphasises and perpetuates the idea that mediated representations of crime, criminality and criminal justice are ‘bad news’ oriented and distorting in content. This both negates the fact that positive portrayals are possible, and do indeed occur, as well as the ways in which media (in its broadest terms) can offer marginalised individuals a platform from which to speak back (sometimes to media misrepresentation) and lobby for change. Whilst the provincialism evident within the practice of media criminology may not be problematic in itself, we argue that there is much to be gained – in terms of richer, deeper, reflexive, nuanced and applied forms of analyses – from a more deliberate coupling and convergence of the empirical knowledge, conceptual approaches and research methodologies specific to the disciplinary fields of criminology and journalism and media studies. This paper shares the experiences of a recent collaboration of this kind. It explores the ways in which we have both been challenged by the perspectives and specialist language of the other, but have ultimately come to conclude that this is not reason enough to abandon the interdisciplinary enterprise; the benefits can far outweigh the drawbacks. In particular, we suggest that bringing together the best of both disciplinary backgrounds, experiences and expertise can create a space in which to critically discuss, debate and learn from one another in creative and productive ways. More importantly, it offers a chance to try and understand, negotiate and realise what it means to ‘do’ media criminology, especially within a changing media environment.
Dr Katrina Clifford is a lecturer and coordinator of industry placements and internships in the Journalism, Media and Communications program at the University of Tasmania. She worked as a journalist and strategic communications consultant for over 10 years, before joining academia. Katrina is the co-author of ‘Media and Crime: Content, Context and Consequence’ (OUP, forthcoming 2017) with Rob White, Professor of Criminology at the University of Tasmania.