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BCM241

Problematising The True Crime Niche

Ever since I was a 15 year old student sitting on the bus watching true crime YouTube videos, to today, a 21-year-old who studies criminology, I have been thoroughly interested in true crime and social media. After narrowing my niche, I found that whilst true crime was interesting, it was extremely broad and in order for this to be a true autoethnographically study, I needed to use self0reflection to explore personal experience. So how could I do this? In order to view how true crime on social media affects community and culture, I need to insert myself into the experience. I plan on researching if true crime on social media has a detrimental or helpful effect on the human psyche. I plan on tracking mine and others experiences with true crime online and therefore viewing if the constant and repetitive nature of viewing true crime documentaries and partaking in true crime discussion allows one to immerse themselves in the case e.g. googling, researching, potentially looking to solve cases or whether it has an effect on ones mind e.g. feeling down, feeling hopeful, engaging with other fans. The main question I will be researching is “Does true crime on social media affect users positively or negatively”. 

Through the narrowing of my niche, I hope to open up the eyes of my fellow age-group and social media users regarding how they intake the media they are consuming. I hope that this study will open up a new form of consciousness surrounding possible harmful material online and make users more aware of how the media they consume affects them. 

My Research Plan 

Forming the basic of my research, the methods of autoethnography and observation must be considered. Observation is “used to test theories and develop new knowledge” (2020). It relies on senses and judgements related to personal subjectivity. This will be detrimental to my research method as I will be viewing true crime documentaries 3 times a week on different platforms (e.g. Spotify, Netflix and literature) and taking notes on my feelings, thoughts and actions in a field journal. This will provide my study with some freedom to explore my findings. I will be recording my every feeling and thought after consuming this media. This will be strictly overt, participatory observation. The next method to consider is autoethnography. Autoethnography has been typically characterised as an [autobiographical] genre of research and writing that Carolyn Ellis (1997) notes is “both a [process and product], that is both evocative and emotional”. After observing, I will then participate. I will engage with fan communities, speak to others who may share my feelings and gain their similar/differing perspectives. I will be doing this on reddit and twitter. This is my research, I am trying to illustrate analytic insights, develop new knowledge and offer original ideas, by bringing in other research and information to expand and augment my perspective. Who combination of the two will be my primary method of research, both regarding my own experience and those in the same community as myself. 

My Schedule 

I will begin by viewing different platforms of media and recording my observations and reactions to these happenings. I will log all of my feelings prior to posting on a curated, specific Instagram page made specifically for communicating with other true crime fans. I will record how users interact with me and the content in which I’m posting, whether this encourages my viewing habits, feelings towards the crimes and eagerness to immerse myself into the story of those I’m studying. I will j0urnal each week and after each post, setting aside 15 minutes to post once a week on my Instagram feed, reddit and twitter. I will record my feelings and habits over each week, hopefully clearly viewing how the regular interaction with true crime affects the human psyche. Basically, I will journal my thoughts and feelings, observe my Instagram communities’ feelings towards true crime and monitor my progress after a prolonged period of viewing real-life atrocities. 

Week 4-6 Journaling and Observing

Weeks 6-8 Observation and anonymous user questionnaire

Weeks 8-10 Journal check-up and compilation of data 

Weeks 10-12 Research writing and further compilation

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