Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism
  1. Media Justice
Law, Justice and Journalism

Media Justice

Themes will be developed by collaborative research projects, studentships, CPD and Knowledge Transfer activities.

Project 1: Trial by Media

This project examines the emergence of 'trial by media' (TBM) as a market-driven form of multi-dimensional, interactive, populist justice in which individuals are exposed, tried, judged and sentenced in the 'court of public opinion'. The nature and target of such trials can be diverse, ranging from the hounding of public figures deemed to be professionally, politically and/or morally 'suspect', to pre-judging the outcome of legal proceedings against 'unknowns'. In each case, the news media behave as a proxy for 'public opinion' and seek to exercise parallel functions of 'justice' to fulfil a role perceived to lie beyond the interests or capabilities of formal institutional authority. TBM is legitimated commercially by increased circulation and web traffic, professionally by journalistic plaudits and awards, and politically by its potential to destroy private lives and public careers. It is the most visible and dramatic manifestation of the rise of 'media justice'. Recent research outputs have analysed the TBM of senior police officers, politicians, publicly funded institutions and pre-charge criminal suspects.

Project 2: Scandal

This project examines the phenomenon of 'scandal', particular in its mediatised form. It explores both individual-level and institutional scandals, the factors determining their exposure in the news media, the techniques of denial and defiance mobilised by individuals and organisations, the nature and anatomy of contemporary and historical media scandals, and their impact on professional practice, public policy and popular opinion. Ultimately the project seeks to understand the impact of media scandal on the political process. Recent outputs have analysed scandals within the Metropolitan Police Service, and within the range of institutions implicated in the Savile Scandal.

  • Greer, C. and McLaughlin, E. (2010) 'We Predict a Riot: Public Order Policing, News Coverage and the Rise of the Citizen Journalist', British Journal of Criminology, 50, 6: 1041-1059