Background Research and Ethical Considerations

My Media Niche

After deep consideration and consultation, my media niche is one that I believe will come together to create an informative and interesting research project. As I was simply interested in true crime and the way it impacted society, I decided to take this a step further. I will be investigating the audience reactions of true crime on social media through an active blog page. Throughout this, I will be examining why we engage with true crime when it generates these feelings of possible negativity. 

Background Academic Research

Breaking down paradigmatic and theoretical frameworks are essential for my study and in order to do this, I will be investigating academic sources from all media platforms to discern this. The biggest part of ethnographical research is collecting, analysing and interpreting data so this is the major aim of my theoretical framework. 

My target when starting the framework of my research was to target towards the why aspect of my question. Why do we, as individuals invest ourselves into disturbing matter? Why do we investigate that scares us? I found particular source that will be extremely helpful in divulging this further. 

Ellen Wayland- Smith’s online article ‘East of Eden: On Rachel Monroe’s Savage Appetites’ (2019) investigates not only the text at hand, but steps further when discussing being “murder-minded” and having a mind always leaning towards the motives of murders. She states that she would  “seek solace from jangly nerves and a shaky post-2008 job market by bingeing back-to-back Law & Order: SVU episodes”. The blending of investigative journalism interspersed with history and cultural criticism provides amazing framework for an early researcher investigating their audience in an analytical way. I believe that unpacking this carefully curated source will assist me in viewing my audience interactions in a new and innovative way, without biasing me towards one particular view. Having this background knowledge is vital. 


When researching, we must seek to protect and hold our audience at the upmost of importance (2020). We cannot dehumanise our subjects and must respect their anonymity and confidentiality. Ethnographic research must tread lightly around this due to its heavy reliance on observational study methods. 

Mertens’ states within their text ‘Ethical Use of Qualitative data and findings’ (2014) that “Ethics sur- rounding the use of qualitative research needs to take into consideration the rigor and ethical nature of the research activities that precede use, as well as those inherently connected with decisions about the use of the data and findings”. 

This basically means that when conducting research and choosing sources, we must have our participants best interests at heart throughout the whole process. The presence of online research opens up the possibility of harm greatly due to the increased possibility of anonymity being foiled or confidentiality breaches. As Winter and Lavis (2019) state “Ethnography has been increasingly adopted by researchers across varied disciplines to study virtual spaces and communities”. Due to this new territory, the reliance on ethics must be focused on directly. In order to ensure I am ethically researching, I will be adopting Elgesem’s (2002) tactic of full disclosure and active listening. Online ethnography permits lots of flexibility so the adaption of “active listening” is core to my study. This means the sustained engagement with words and images that surround and give meaning to each post, including the captions, comments, and loops and webs of conversations that ensue. This allows further attention to context and provides a holistic understanding of digital culture and those who participate in it. Observing Instagram users thus means adopting confidentiality administration as I will be observing their comments and only including it in my study with express permission from users. This will therefore allow me to avoid deception and ensure the care of all participants involved

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