A New Adventure

The Photography Adventure

During my second year at university there were a few changes made to the course. More emphasis was needed on multi-media training as that is the way things are now for journalists in the real world. Part of this development included a few weeks of photography lectures and we were given some practical tasks to complete.

This made a change from the endless writing and I enjoyed the variety. Although from the results I am sharing today, you will see this is not something I had a natural flair for. Please don’t judge me on my incompetence. I was trying to be um… creative! I know my achievements are way off the scale, the inept scale that is!

It’s fun to try out new things as by doing so you can go on strange and wonderful adventures.

Project 1. A portrait

At first this seemed like an easy task. Then I realized that I was lacking one thing – a subject! The thought of wandering around asking random strangers to pose for me didn’t appeal at all. I also rejected the idea of taking photos of people without their permission – that would look a bit dodgy. While mulling over this task I made a mug of tea and went outside to sit in my garden.  My old cat Frasier (RIP) followed me to enjoy the warm autumn evening.

I had recently had my birthday and my son had sent me a parcel. The empty cardboard box had been left on the patio as Frasier was quite partial to sitting in boxes. Right on cue, Frasier took up his position in the box and I had a lightbulb moment. It had not been specified that the subject of the portrait had to be human, Frasier could be my subject. I grabbed the iPad from the kitchen table and snapped away.

I hoped for an elegant pose with Frasier showing off his beautiful amber-coloured eyes. Instead, I captured one of those really fast head-shakes that cats do. I love the way that Frasier’s ears blur and capture the speed of movement. I also quite like the framing of this photo and the angle of the box, I have no idea if this is good or bad in photographic terms. To me it looks less formal, more natural than staged portraits.

If I had any editing skills I would have photo-shopped in a decent background, think Hanging Gardens of Babylon or one of those stately homes like Blenheim Palace. However, as I haven’t yet acquired that level of competency I will share my typical-student-house with tatty, unpainted doorstep and neglected, weed-filled patio. After all, the focus should be on the subject.

Frasier pose

Frasier in a box


Project 2.  Person at work

Our lecturer Tom had prepared us for this task, a series of three photos, by explaining that the pictures will tell a story:

Photo 1. The Establishing Shot

Photo 2. Portrait in Profile

Photo 3. Close Up

  1. Shows the exterior of Ponsanooth Village Stores, where I used to work. Taken on Saturday 4 October 2014. The shop had been closed since it was damaged by a flood on Christmas Eve 2013.  The new extension is under construction.
Ponsanooth Village Stores

Ponsanooth Village Stores

  1. Paula is at work inside the building, painting the skirting boards. The slight blurring of her hand is because she was actually painting, not posing or pretending to paint.
Paula painting

Paula painting

  1. A detailed picture of Paula’s hand. This shows how Paula prefers to hold a paintbrush and her technique for applying paint. The paint soaked brush shows that she has done a lot of work. I cropped this picture to centralise the hand and included the corner to give some perspective.
close up

Close up


Project 3.   A three-minute video story

I was pleased with the way the photography sessions were going. So far I had achieved the tasks I had been set and received some positive feedback from Tom with suggestions for improvement. The next task took me completely out of my comfort zone – to create a three-minute video story.

This was new territory for me, I was completely clueless. Tom said that there was plenty of free video-editing software available online, I nodded blankly, frozen like a rabbit in the headlights. I came home and over a cup of tea I googled video-editing software! It was a start.

I didn’t have any ideas for a story/plot and again, I lacked participants to star in my film. I did however have most of a loaf of stale bread, so the next morning I drove to Swanpool to feed the ducks and check on the swans and see how the cygnets were growing. I didn’t own a functioning camera or a smartphone but I did have the iPad so I took it along, just in case.

The weather was beautiful for mid-October so I decided to video my walk around Swanpool Lake. I met a lovely lass called Debbie and got chatting. In total I had about 35 minutes of video showing some beautiful scenery, Debbie, the ducks and a family feeding the swans. At home I played back my tedious, slow progress around the lake wondering whether I could edit anything out of it into a story, and if so, how?

The audio quality of my video was very poor and I thought of adding a soundtrack instead of dialogue. Naturally I chose Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (Op. 20)! I found a track just short of three minutes long and using the VideoPad software I had downloaded I set up a “New Project”. I added the audio and the video and cut and cut until I had a passable story. I linked the scenes together, added subtitles, a title page and an ending page. I don’t quite know how, but I referred to the help page quite a lot!

Forgive the jumpy camera action, the cropping off of the participant’s heads and that I managed to obscure the camera lens with my finger at 2.27. I got my three-minute video story and accomplished something I had never done before. I even tried to be a bit clever by matching the action in the video to the soundtrack, to synchronise the scenes and action with the emotion conveyed in the music. Of course, Hitchcock did this much better with the screeching violins in the shower slashing scene in Psycho, but you get the idea.  My attempt works passably in places and is awful in others.

  • Scene One opens with an establishing shot over the lake. The tranquil scene is matched by the opening bars, the first phase, of the Swan Lake music (15 seconds).
  • Scene Two shows an unknown character walking away into the distance. To me, the passing cars in the background represent (rather large) ballerinas gliding across the stage. This scene matches the second phase of the music (15 seconds).
  • Scene Three introduces the actor/participant, Debbie and the first dialogue which explains the purpose of being there – to find the swans. I tried to match Debbie’s arm movements as she scatters breadcrumbs to the rising lilt of the music. The seagulls flapping up and down were like ballerinas dancing to the fluttering of the string instruments and harp (12 seconds).
  • Scene Four shows Debbie walking away, with the instruction to follow her and the music and suspense continue to build (10 seconds).
  • Scene Five coincides with the music reaching a crescendo, the action matching the dramatic climax. We have found the swans! (10 seconds). This might be a little theatrical, but hey, that’s what it’s like in Hollywood or Hollyoaks… I’m buzzing here, I’m making Movies! And we’re only one minute in to the action.
  • Scene Six just goes with the flow of the music. When filming this, I had initially focussed on the swans and moved back to include the family throwing bread. Purely by luck, this is effective in the edit and the swans and seagulls again resemble dancers. This long scene works by allowing the viewer to become absorbed with the action and the music. The scene is just over a minute long and the editing was based around matching the little girl’s exit from shot with the dramatic pinnacle of the music at the end of the scene. Although I would love to take credit for fantastic editing, any other co-ordination between the visual and the audio in this scene is purely co-incidental.
  • Scene Seven is the winding down section. The bread has all gone, the dancing finishes, the show is over, the music ends (35 seconds).

During this task I learned some very basic video skills and developed a huge respect for those who work within the industry. I know it gets easier with practice and there are much better professional programmes available to help with the process.

Anyway, here is the masterpiece!


Project 4. A person with passion

As a lead into this project, Tom showed us examples of films created using stills images accompanied by dialogue, music or sound effects. It is an alternative and creative way to tell a story.

Unlike the other projects, I knew immediately who I wanted to star in this film; my very good friend Liz.  I have known Liz for over 20 years. We first met when I was doing work experience in the hospital she worked at. Later when I was employed at the hospital we would meet at department meetings and occasionally on the wards or at lunch. Liz is an amazing person; kind, compassionate, generous, funny and many other qualities besides. Among these I will say that Liz is a person with passion.

In this case, I am referring to the time that Liz began making sock monkeys. At first I remember seeing the occasional photo on her newsfeed on Facebook. Then things accelerated, the monkeys began to get names, develop personalities and they had begun posing for their pictures. I felt like they were coming alive! It was very amusing to follow.

In the interests of helping me finish my education, Liz agreed to be interviewed to talk about the sock monkey days. I chose a documentary style and prepared some questions. In a relaxed setting in my home, we ate cakes and drank coffee while looking through a selection of photographs of sock monkeys. I recorded Liz as she told the story in her own inimitable way. It was hilarious, we rolled around laughing until our faces hurt. This was undeniably the most fun project that I ever completed while at uni.  Liz was a great sport.

Later, I started a new project on VideoPad and imported the audio. I had about half an hour of audio which I edited down to just over two minutes. A lot of it was us laughing and giggling. I shortened the anecdotes and linked eight of them together. Then I matched the photos to the audio, added the title page and the end page and that was that.

If I had more time or experience, I would have used a proper microphone to achieve a better sound quality. I would also have learned how to fade out and in to link in the narrative together more smoothly. Anyway, here is the end result.

I would like to thank Tom for his patience and for introducing me to the wonderful world of the visual arts. I definitely had more confidence after experimenting with these projects. I was so inspired that I recently bought a DSLR camera. It will be fun to practice my new skills.

I would also like to thank all the participants as without their contributions, none of this would have been possible. And finally, I would like to dedicate this post to Liz as a birthday present for being a great friend and making me laugh.

 An investigation into the representation of cyberbullying in the British press: A case study of the Daily Mail


Julia Conway

May 2016

Supervisor: Dr Hayes Mabweazara FHEA

 Dissertation submitted to Falmouth University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of BA (Hons) Journalism


Word count: 8540


As digital technologies and the internet have advanced, many aspects of our daily lives have changed. We are increasingly reliant on the cyber world in work, education and in our social lives. In hand with this, practically every traditional crime has spawned a cyber equivalent. This critical study explores the subject of cyberbullying using theoretical studies and statistical evidence to define the subject and its far-reaching consequences. In order to define the representation of cyberbullying within the British press, a qualitative research study was undertaken to examine four texts from the Daily Mail. Critical discourse analysis was applied to four sample stories to identify themes and expand our understanding of cyberbullying. The findings show that despite the seriousness of the cyberbullying situation, writers are keen to show the trolls up for what they are; mad, sad and bad miscreant cowards. This is achieved through humour, mockery and a variety of literary devices. In conclusion it is recognised that cyberbullying is a pandemic problem and will be around for the foreseeable future as one more generation after another are affected. With that in mind, other solutions are sought and include some innovative suggestions that may lead to some resolution.





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS                                                                      i


1         INTRODUCTION                                                                       1

1.1       Context of the study                                                                  1

1.2       Aims and objectives                                                                  2

1.3       Structure of the dissertation                                                   3

2        LITERATURE REVIEW                                                            4

2.1       Introduction                                                                               4

2.2       What is cyberbullying?                                                            4

2.3       The problems of defining cyberbullying                              4

2.4       Types of cyberbullying                                                             5

2.5       The troll: playful or malicious?                                              6

2.6       The extent and cost of cyberbullying in UK schools         7

2.7       anti-bullying policies                                                               8

2.8       Laws that cover cyberbullying                                               9

2.9       Moral panic or freedom of speech?                                      9

2.10     Summary of the literature review                                         10

3        METHODOLOGY                                                                       11

3.1       Introduction                                                                               11

3.2       Critical discourse Analysis (CDA)                                         11

3.3       Sample of Stories                                                                      12

3.4       Ethical considerations                                                             12

3.5       Summary of the methodology                                                13

4        FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION                                               14

4.1       Case study 1

4.1.1    Synopsis of the text                                                                   14

4.1.2    Text analysis                                                                              15

4.2       Case study 2

4.2.1    Synopsis of the text                                                                  17

4.2.2    Text analysis                                                                             18

4.3       Case study 3

4.3.1    Synopsis of the text                                                                  20

4.3.2    Text analysis                                                                             21

4.4       Case study 4

4.4.1    Synopsis of the text                                                                  23

4.4.2    Text analysis                                                                             24

4.5       Summary of analysis                                                               25

4.6       Discussion                                                                                 26

4.7       Other solutions to combat cyberbullying                            27

5        CONCLUSION                                                                            29

6        REFERENCES                                                                            30

7        APPENDICES                                                                             33

A         News story 1. Rachel Johnson January 20, 2013.              33

B         News story 2. Rachel Johnson October 19, 2014                34

C         News story 3.  Katie Hopkins November 24, 2015             36

D         News story 4. Sarah Vine March 23, 2016                           39



 I would like to thank my supervisor Dr Hayes Mabweazara.



 1.1     Context of the study

The development of digital technologies and the internet over the past three decades has revolutionised many aspects of our lives and had a huge impact on our society. Every aspect of our day-to-day lives, such as banking, communication, education, entertainment and even the way we do our shopping, has been permeated by the computerised, networked and virtual world. Although the internet has many positive advantages in enabling communication and commerce on a global scale, the downside is that it has provided a platform for a proliferation of repugnant crimes (cybercrime) to be committed by unknown persons operating from concealed locations. This study examines one aspect of cyber behaviour, cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is defined as, “the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others” (Shah, Muley and Dalwadi 2014: 16). A significant feature of cyberbullying is that the bully can adopt an anonymous online persona or pseudonym to target their victim. Cyberbullying itself is not currently a criminal offence in the UK, although in extreme forms such as cyber-stalking, harassment and where threats are made to other’s life there have been successful prosecutions made under other laws.

Millions of people; children and adults, have been affected by cyberbullying with many victims suffering long-term effects from stress and depression as a result of continuous or protracted campaigns against them. In some cases, people have taken their own lives because they felt they had no alternative. Stories about cyberbullying are a regular occurrence in the media, they feature in television and radio programmes and in the national press. This is an indication of the magnitude and severity of the problem.

Although people of all ages are affected by cyberbullying, the following section has focussed on the statistical information available from studies affecting children and young people. There has been an extensive amount of quantitative research in this area and less so into adult cyberbullying. As far back as 2010, The Independent newspaper summarised research conducted by the now defunct charity, Beatbullying. The research said that “nearly half of suicides among 10 to 14-year-olds are due to bullying…of 59 cases of child suicide reported in the national media between 2000 and 2008, 26 were definitely connected to bullying” (Dickinson: 2010). The report also stated that: “1,769 suicides of 15 to 19-year-olds between 2000 and 2008…indicated that the total number of bullying-related adolescent suicides could be in the hundreds” (Dickinson: 2010). Cyberbullying was also cited in the data.

1.2     Aims and objectives

This study examines how stories regarding cyberbullying are represented in the British press, specifically by the Daily Mail. This newspaper, which has around 23 million readers per month, (Ponsford: 2015) is considered to represent traditional British values. The main aim of the research is to analyse four stories concerning issues of cyberbullying as case studies. The use of qualitative language research methods will interpret how cyberbullying is represented in the British media. By learning what a reader might comprehend and interpret from these stories it will determine whether enough emphasis is made on the seriousness of cyberbullying.

A quick internet search reveals that there are a great many charities based in the UK offering support and advice about cyberbullying or involved in anti-bullying campaigns, they include; BullyingUK, ChildLine, The Cybersmile Foundation, Ditch the Label, Kidscape, The National Bullying Helpline, The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), respectme (Scotland), Parents Protect! Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), and Childnet International, to name a few. The sheer number charities and services to aid victims of cyberbullying indicate that vast numbers of people are suffering. This warrants further investigation to gain a greater understanding of how cyberbullying is portrayed and represented by the British press.

 1.3 Structure of the dissertation

Having introduced the contextual background of cyberbullying, Chapter two will look in greater detail at academic studies on the subject. There has been a great deal of research conducted into issues surrounding social media practices with regard to cyberbullying and studies into the psychological issues of bullying in general. These are summarised and clear themes within cyberbullying research are identified.

Chapter three describes the methodology chosen for this study. Critical Discourse Analysis methods are applied to stories from the Daily Mail to examine how cyberbullying is represented. Four stories were chosen for their relevance to the themes of ‘Harassment’ and ‘Outing and Trickery’ which are discussed in more detail in the next chapter. The findings and discussion section examine these representations in more detail leading to the outcomes and further discussion of the study.



 2.1     Introduction

In order to demonstrate the representation of cyberbullying within the British press, first it is necessary to outline the issues around cyberbullying more thoroughly. This chapter will clarify the various definitions of cyberbullying and highlight the extent of the problem with statistical information from quantitative research studies.

2.2     What is cyberbullying?

It has been a topic of debate between scholars for many years as to what constitutes traditional bullying. Olweus defines bullying using three criteria: “(1) it is aggressive behaviour or intentional ‘harmdoing’ (2) which is carried out repeatedly and over time (3) in an interpersonal relationship characterized by an imbalance of power” (1999: 10-11). These features of traditional bullying are equally relevant to cyberbullying. The main difference between traditional bullying and cyberbullying is the distance between victim and bully. Gillespie observes: “The internet, as a global resource, allows people who are not physically proximate to engage in harassing behaviour through, for example, facilitating the tracking and harassment of children in chat-rooms” (2006: 124). Anyone with an online profile can become a victim of cyberbullying if the simple act of posting a comment or photograph is considered provocative to the cyberbully. A person who uses a screen name for anonymity can hide behind a computer keyboard and utter things that they would not normally say face to face.

2.3     The problems of defining cyberbullying   

In 2005, at the request of the Flemish Parliament’s Commission for Culture, Youth, Sports and Media, a survey was conducted into cyberbullying. The study comprised of 2052 students aged between 10 and 18 years-old in Flanders, Belgium. The authors, Vandebosch and Van Cleemput, begin by explaining the difficulties in defining the term cyberbullying as definitions from scholars vary widely depending on which elements and characteristics are included. Defining cyberbullying is compounded because there is no general agreement on definitions of traditional bullying in order to relate the two.

Furthermore, “the specific nature of written forms of electronic communication causes problems. Email, chat and text messaging can be easily misunderstood because they contain neither the tone of the word nor eye contact” (2009: 1351). The Belgian study uncovers more about cyberbullying by asking their respondents whether they have been the victim, perpetrator or a bystander. When asked if they had been “actively or passively involved in bullying via the internet or mobile phone” 11.1% said they had been a victim, 18% said they had been perpetrators and 27.9% said they had been bystanders (2009:1361).

The research identifies that cyberbullying activity is occurring at a younger age than observed in previous studies, for both victims and perpetrators. Also of significance is that children who have been bullied are in turn becoming bullies themselves. Vandebosch and Van Cleemput observe: “This may be an indication of the existence of counter or chain reactions in cyberbullying, whereby perpetrators become victims and victims perpetrators, ultimately resulting in a culture of cyberbullying” (2011: 1368). The main recommendations are for parents to be more involved in their children’s use of the internet and for extensive awareness campaigns to aid in preventing cyberbullying.

2.4     Types of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the term used to describe any form of bullying which takes place online. It may be facilitated using e-mail, mobile telephones, chat rooms, instant messaging, and social media sites. As noted earlier, this study focuses on two examples (cyber stalking and harassment) from the comprehensive list below. There are many forms of cyberbullying and scholars have yet to agree on a definitive description. BullyingUK, a registered charity which campaigns against bullying defines seven types of cyberbullying as:

  • Cyber Stalking – Just like physical stalking except using the internet to communicate, rather than face-to-face. This may include repeatedly sending messages to intimidate others and threats of harm which cause a person to feel afraid for their safety.
  • Denigration – Sending information about another person which is untrue, for example fake rumours and gossip. This includes photographs (genuine and photo-shopped) sent to ridicule someone.
  • Exclusion – Intentionally leaving someone out of a group of online engagement. Also called social bullying.
  • Flaming – The use of extreme and offensive language to get into online fights and arguments. It is done deliberately to cause upset and distress and pleasure is obtained by getting a reaction.
  • Harassment – The act of sending rude, insulting and offensive messages to be abusive, including nasty comments on photographs and posts. Also concerns the prolonged or repeated unwanted contact or persecution of another.
  • Impersonation – Gaining access to someone else’s email or social media accounts to use that person’s identity to post embarrassing or vicious material to others. This also includes making fake profiles on social media sites.
  • Outing and Trickery – The act of sharing someone’s personal information or tricking a person to share information which is then forwarded to others. This includes photographs and videos.

(BullyingUK ca. 2016)

In some cases of cyberbullying the victim may be known to the bully through school, work or some other social connection. In other cases, the victim may be a person in the public sphere such as a television personality, a celebrity or someone in public office. These people are usually unknown to the bully but thought of as ‘fair game’ due to their public status. It is not unusual for a cyberbully to use an assumed name to remain anonymous and avoid detection.

2.5     The troll: playful or malicious?

The word ‘troll’ is more associated with adult cyberbullying. Schwartz (2008) states: “In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities”. The word refers to a method of catching fish, “by trolling a baited line in the water and waiting for a fish to bite. In the same sense, the Internet troll tries to “catch” an unsuspecting victim to demean and humiliate.” (NoBullying.com: 2015). Trolls use online forums, websites and social media sites to upset people or interrupt the flow of conversation.

In Whitney Phillips’ study, Meet the Trolls, she defines a particular type of cyberbully, the internet troll. Phillips claims that the troll’s characteristics are different from other cyberbullies. While investigating the trolling subculture on social media sites including Facebook, she observes: “… while hardly a monolithic or clearly homogeneous group, most trolls meet the following basic profile: they self-identify as trolls, tend to be intelligent, are playful and mischievous and wildly antagonistic” (2011:68).  Behind the veil of anonymity, essential to carry out their subversive tyranny, the troll will deliberately taunt, argue, insult and offend basically for no other reason than they can and this gives them pleasure.

Phillips notes that the target of a troll’s attention is inconsequential: “Put very simply, trolls are equal-opportunity offenders, primarily interested in lulz; this is what trolls refer to as ‘the game’” (2011:69). Troll behaviour varies across the spectrum from unpleasant rudeness to criminal activity which tests the boundaries of the right to free speech. It could be disputed that Phillips underplays the seriousness of the situation. Far from being playful, troll activity can be threatening, menacing, and cause misery to those who are targeted.

2.6     The extent and cost of cyberbullying in UK schools

The Nominet Trust commissioned two studies titled Virtual Violence I (2009) and Virtual Violence II (2012) in collaboration with Beatbullying. These in-depth studies investigate cyberbullying among children, young people and teachers within the UK. The Trust advocate the application of online technology in all its positive uses. Realising that the internet can be used as a means to cause harm as well as good, they recognise that the digital world contains both opportunities and risks for users. Trust Director, Annika Small observes:

Cyberbullying is a particularly damaging form of bullying and it is impossible to underestimate how destructive it can be. It erodes self-esteem and confidence, relationships with family and friends suffer, and harmful or risky behaviours come to be seen as ways of coping with pain. Bullied children are at higher risk of depression, achieving below their potential in school and dropping out of education altogether.

(Cross et al. 2012:4)

Findings from the latest survey of over 4,600 11-to-16-year-olds revealed that 28% “have been deliberately targeted, threatened or humiliated by an individual or group through the use of mobile phones or the internet” (Cross et al. 2012:6). Although the majority of cyberbullying activity is associated with children and young people, adults are affected, particularly teachers. The study revealed that 10% of teachers have been harassed and 48% have witnessed it happening to their colleagues (Cross et al. 2012:26).

A survey of over 10,000 young people (aged 13-22) in 2013 by the anti-bullying charity ‘Ditch the Label’ identified:

  • 7 in 10 young people are victims of cyberbullying which affects their social lives and self-esteem
  • 54% of those using Facebook have experienced cyberbullying
  • 28% of those using Twitter have experienced cyberbullying
  • Facebook, Twitter and Ask.FM were found to be the most likely sources of cyberbullying
  • It is estimated that 5.43 million young people in the UK have experienced cyberbullying, with 1.26 million subjected to extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis.
  • 3% of those suffering from cyberbullying attempted suicide.

(Ditch the label 2013:7-8)

Although bullying may happen anywhere, it has long been associated with the school playground. Government Acts have sought to regulate and reduce incidents. These are discussed in the next section.

2.7     Anti-bullying policies

In the UK, under section 89 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, all state schools must have behavioural policies in place which include measures “to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils” (GOV.UK). Individual schools write their own policies which will, of course, vary. The Nominet Trust study has calculated that if each of the 3,310 secondary schools in the UK allocated one teacher dealing with cyberbullying for six hours per week, the weekly cost per school would be £208.85. The total cost per year to the UK in cyberbullying would be nearly 18 million pounds (£17,973,300) (Cross et al. 2012: 52).

Estimating the number of children and young people who are affected by cyberbullying in the UK was calculated using Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures and compared to the results of the study, which project that out of just below 4.4 million secondary school children in the UK, “350,222 children may have suffered persistent and insidious bullying inflicted via technology” (Cross et al. 2012:6). Interestingly, nearly half (44%) of those bullied say the bullying originated offline (face-to-face) before following them online. In some cases, cyberbullying is so extreme that the perpetrator can be prosecuted. The different laws are discussed in the next section.

2.8     Laws that cover cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has no legal definition in UK law although it can be considered a criminal offence under several existing Acts. The Cybersmile Foundation (2015), an anti-bullying charity, list these as:

  • Breach of the Peace (Scotland)
  • Communications Act 2003
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
  • Defamation Act 2013
  • Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997

The number of communications sent via social media every day is in the millions. The interpretation of the existing Acts has led to confusion and inconsistency in prosecuting extreme cyberbullies. This has led to new guidelines being written by the Crown Prosecution Service which took effect in 2013. These are discussed in the next section.

 2.9     Moral panic or freedom of speech?

Almost twenty years ago, Ellison and Akdeniz observed: “The phenomenon of cyber-stalking and on-line harassment looks set to be the focus of the next Internet-related moral panic” (1998:1). This was as a result of a surge of stalking cases in the UK which had been reported in the press. The debate, “served to highlight deficiencies of both civil and criminal law in dealing with those who engage in stalking activity” (1998:2). The problem was that at the time, stalking was not actually a criminal offence.  This was addressed relatively quickly with the Protection from Harassment Act introduced in 1997.

As mentioned in the previous section, there are many UK laws which can be applied in prosecuting against cyberbullying and harassment. In 2013, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, introduced a set of guidelines to assist prosecutors when dealing with cases involving social media communications. Mr Starmer summarised:

These are cases that can give rise to complex issues, but to avoid the potential chilling effect that might arise from high numbers of prosecutions in cases in which a communication might be considered grossly offensive, we must recognise the fundamental right to freedom of expression and only proceed with prosecution when a communication is more than offensive, shocking or disturbing, even if distasteful or painful to those subjected to it.

(CPS: 2013)

A major consideration in compiling the guidelines was in maintaining a balance between an individual’s right to free speech and expression whilst also upholding the criminal law. It is a contentious issue but a worthwhile point. A post on social media may offend or upset one person but be quite within the boundaries of the law.

2.10   Summary of the literature review

This chapter demonstrates that there has been a vast amount of quantitative research done previously into the subject of cyberbullying. The findings of such studies indicate that cyberbullying is an immense problem with far-reaching consequences. Having clarified some of the difficulties in understanding and interpreting cyberbullying definitions, this study will now look at the chosen method of research and how cyberbullying stories are represented in the British press.



 3.1     Introduction

The intention of this study is to analyse newspaper stories to see how cyberbullying is represented within the British press. To this aim, stories relating to cyberbullying were chosen from the Mail Online, the internet version of the Daily Mail newspaper. According to the Press Gazette: “The Daily Mail is the most read newspaper brand in the UK…” (Ponsford 2015). Figures from the National Readership Survey (NRS), annual surveys of 2014 and 2015 confirm that the Daily Mail has been the most popular newspaper in the UK when print and online figures are combined (NRS 2014, NRS 2015). The International Business Times describes the Daily Mail as, “the tabloid for the traditionalist, conservative middle classes” (Croucher 2015). In selecting a middle market newspaper with extensive readership and analysing news stories concerning cyberbullying, it is hoped to gain an understanding on how cyberbullying may be perceived by a reader.

A qualitative language study was chosen as the most suitable method of analysis. Qualitative research is “characterised by its aims, which relate to understanding some aspect of social life, and its methods which (in general) generate words, rather than numbers, as data for analysis” (Patton and Cochran 2002). This approach is more relevant for two reasons. Firstly, in gaining an understanding of what is said about cyberbullying and what can be deduced from the texts. Secondly, in reporting the results, using clear, identified themes. Fairclough’s model of Critical Discourse Analysis was the preferred method.

3.2     Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA)

In his book, Media Discourse, Fairclough refers to “the power of the mass media… The power of the media to shape governments and parties… The power to influence knowledge, beliefs, values, social relations, social identities” (1995: 2). In his model of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), Fairclough uses the framework to analyse media language. He adds that, “analysis of media language should be recognized as an important element within research on contemporary processes of social and cultural change…” (1995: 2). The linguist and journalist Bell, makes similar observations of the study of media language in that it is, “an essential part of the content of what the media purvey to us. That is, language is a tool and expression of media messages.” (1996: 3).  Bell places a particular emphasis on how language is used in reporting news to a mass audience. Among the summary of reasons to study media language he lists:

  • “taking advantage of how the media communication situation manipulates language in a revealing way, for instance in news copy editing
  • interest in what media language reveals as a mirror of the wider society and culture (and)
  • interest in how media language affects attitudes and opinions in society through the way it presents people and issues” (1996: 4).

In defining CDA, Fairclough explains that media language should be analysed as a discourse. That is, as well as analysing the texts, it is important to look at the practices for example, how the texts are “produced by media workers in media institutions and the ways in which texts are received by audiences…” (1995: 16). Furthermore, analysis should be part of a wider context of sociocultural practice.  

3.3     Sample of stories

Four stories were chosen from Daily Mail columnists. The opinion piece gives more insight towards issues about cyberbullying as they include the writer’s beliefs and points of view, which is not present in a traditional ‘inverted pyramid’ style news story. These stories were chosen due to their relevance concerning the cyberbullying themes of harassment and outing and trickery.  The stories are analysed as case studies in the next chapter. Although this is not a large sample group, it is not the quantity of stories which matter. Instead, it is the content of the analysis and the issues raised which are more relevant in this investigation.

3.4     Ethical considerations

The texts used for the case studies are from the Daily Mail and are all in the public domain. They are available to read online through archives on the Mail Online website. No information was taken from private spaces. Oliver (2010:138) observes that data in the public domain may be used freely. He adds: “The analysis of such data is the least intrusive form of Internet-based research and may only relatively rarely involve ethical issues”. From this it can be stated that no permissions for consent or confidentiality are required.

 3.5     Summary of the methodology

Quantitative research methods provide clear facts and figures which have been beneficial in visualising the extent of the cyberbullying problem in the previous chapter. It is useful to know how many people have been affected; their ages, where they live and the severity of their suffering. It does not, however, offer any explanations, as to how cyberbullying is perceived by others or an understanding of “experiences and attitudes” (Patton and Cochran 2002). CDA enables a greater understanding of the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of specific cyberbullying articles and, by analysis, reveals issues that are not covered by measured variables and component analysis as in quantitative research. The CDA method is also favourable for understanding the interaction between the techniques of production and reception and the ideological context of the text.



 4.1     Case Study 1.

We MUST defeat the sexting bullies (… and I don’t mean the guys who’ve been swapping snaps of my cleavage)

By Rachel Johnson for the Mail On Sunday. January 20, 2013.

(Johnson: 2013)

4.1.1    Synopsis of the text

In summary, the first text, (see appendix A) begins with Johnson describing a corporate lunch she had recently attended during which a fellow diner had taken a photograph of her cleavage. This photograph soon began circulating via email and the internet. Johnson has chosen not to take offence at this activity.

Johnson then relates how disagreements and misunderstandings can quickly spiral out of control on platforms such as Twitter. Referring to two of her colleagues, Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill, who have both faced a torrent of abuse following an article written by the former and supported by the latter.

The text then introduces the key issue, that of ‘sexting’. This practice is shown to have a devastating effect on children, citing the events that led to a 13-year-old girl who took her own life following the distribution of a video filmed on a mobile phone in which she had been forced to perform a sex act on an older boy.

4.1.2    Text analysis

Within the headline, the use of the modal auxiliary verb, “MUST defeat” and the capitalisation suggests very strongly that something needs to be done to beat the “sexting bullies”. The verb “defeat” refers metaphorically to war. It is a very strong opening, enough to implant concerns into the reader’s mind about the issue. Also within the headline is the direct comparison made by using informal terms and alliteration to light-heartedly exclude the “guys swapping snaps”, implying there is no animosity towards them.

By using the text message Chevonea Kendall-Bryan sent to the boy with the video as a direct quotation, this portrays her as a real person, not just a statistic of bullying. This will have an impact on parents and families of teenage girls, who will appreciate the vulnerability and sensitivity of the adolescent. The direct quotation from Chevonea’s mother, taken from a letter to the school about the bullying situation reinforces this human element as she implores the school to take action against bullying.

Two literary devices encapsulate the current situation in the United States. Firstly, the use of research. By identifying that “two-thirds of high school girls” have been “slutshamed” (as defined by Outing and Trickery in chapter two), this shows the enormity of the problem. Secondly, defining how slutshaming is perceived by the use of the three-part list “trampish, deviant or perverse”. This is an effective way of holding a reader’s attention, and is often used by politicians to emphasise a point.

In describing “this horrible practice”, the writer is clearly giving her point of view and stance on the subject. This is supported by the oppositional (and unbalanced) relationship between the genders identifying that “girls who perform sex acts are branded sluts, while boys are players”. The opposition in comparing “fair comment” and “offensive insults” also expresses the binary with one implying good and the other, bad.

Throughout the article the writer uses the plural pronoun “we”. This alludes to an allegiance between herself and the reader, shared values and opinions on the issue. In rounding off the use of “Let’s” also involves the reader as to the way forward; a succinct negation between “grown women who can take care of themselves” and “children who can’t

In the image accompanying this article, the writer poses for a casually-clothed, waist-up photograph, body side on, head facing front and slightly tilted. This gives a clear silhouette of her breasts, the subject of the first third of the text. It is a relaxed pose in which she is smiling openly and yet demurely. By agreeing to be photographed this way the writer demonstrates her self-confidence with her own body image.

Rachel Johnson is an intelligent, articulate businesswoman. She is a successful journalist, editor, television presenter and author.  As a woman with a public persona and sister of the previous mayor of London, Boris Johnson, Ms Johnson has been the target of negative comments and behaviour on social media platforms as described in the article. With maturity and self-confidence, she chooses to rise above such bullying behaviour with regard to herself. However, she urges support for the vulnerable children who do not have the confidence or experience to manage the destructive forces of cyberbullying.

4.2     Case Study 2.

Trolls are just today’s muttering nutters on a bus says RACHEL JOHNSON

By Rachel Johnson for the Mail On Sunday October 19, 2014.

Johnson (2014)

4.2.1    Synopsis of the text

This text (see appendix B) opens with a referral to the previous week’s disturbance and disorder on social media sites. This was as a result of the television presenter Judy Finnigan, saying that a football player, having served time in prison for rape, should now be allowed to return to his job as he had paid his debt to society.

The backlash from those who disagreed was immense. For some reason, Ms Finnigan’s daughter, Chloe Madeley, was also targeted by trolls. It is observed that trolling is a frequent occurrence. Several high profile women are listed as having had similar abuse directed at them.

There is a call to end trolling which is dependent on meeting two condition. Firstly, everyone needs to stop repeating or reprinting the insulting messages and secondly, by ending online anonymity. Trolls are described as cowards and bullies when they remain unseen but when exposed they are often sad, pathetic people and usually quite harmless. The writer likens trolls to the ‘muttering nutter on the bus’, who can be blocked or reported.

The text then expands on some of the previously mentioned high-profile women who have been targeted and ends with a quote from Ms Madeley.

4.2.2    Text analysis

In the headline, trolls are described metaphorically as today’s equivalent of the “muttering nutters on a bus”, referring to an observational comedy routine by Jasper Carrott from 1976, in the days before political correctness. Carrott recounts the scene of being on a bus when a crazed, ranting character gets on. Everyone with a spare seat next to them dreads “the nutter” sitting next to them. This direct comparison makes the troll sound like someone to pity, rather than fear.

Within the first line of the text, an effective three-part list of adjectives is used, “deranged, disgusting (and most likely, nocturnal)” all connote a negative impression of the troll under the theme of insanity. The troll’s communications are described as “emissions” which serves to compare them to exhaust fumes or waste products.

Another three-part list in the second paragraph is more complex and used with a simile. Within the sentence, the use of othering defines the trolls as “strange people” who “come out and flap around like mad bats without any sonar of common sense, irony or decency”. The simile continues the insanity theme in labelling the bats as “mad”. The imagery of small winged-mammals flying around aimlessly with no sense of direction in a physical sense can also be interpreted through the use of the nouns “common sense, irony or decency” to imply that the troll has no moral compass either. This is a powerful and descriptive paragraph which will grab and hold the attention of the reader.

The writer makes her own opinion clear by agreeing with Judy Finnigan’s opinion that the footballer should be allowed to have his old job back. This is made in direct opposition of “the 150,000 who have signed a petition against Evans rejoining his club”. It was this controversial topic that started the most recent onslaught from trolls on social media sites. Many of those who opposed Ms Finnegan’s opinion verbally attacked her daughter to vent their anger: “Chloe, for some reason, got it in the neck”. With no clear reason for their motive, the trolls appear to be irrational. The writer is hinting again that the trolls are mad and their behaviour aggressive.

The three-part list is used twice more in this article. First in naming other prominent women; an academic, a feminist campaigner and an MP who have all been affected by online harassment and with whom the writer shares the opinion that “trolling needs to stop”. Stated as a quote it reinforces the message as their voices appear united in this cause. The second list is in othering the trolls as “sad, pathetic human beings”.

The writer informs that there is a button on Twitter to block or report abuse but that she finds it helps to imagine trolls as “the random people who sit on the top deck of buses, muttering to themselves”. This adds weight to what she has already suggested along the themes of insanity, suggesting that trolls may have some mental disorder.

In making a second brief point towards ending trolling: “And, two, anonymity online should end”, this short statement stands alone in the text and has the most impact. Most trolling derives from the ability to post anonymously. On sites where users have to register their identity they are more likely to behave respectfully and less likely to post hostile and offensive comments. Johnson returns to this subject in a conversational tone, answering an unasked question “I don’t know how we get there from here either”. By using the plural pronoun “we”, she is including the reader in the thought process to achieve the objective.

The text ends by quoting a Tweet from Chloe Madeley: “And for my grand finale… PAPERS SHOULD STOP QUOTING TROLLS, THEY ARE NOT SANE”. This supports the general theme of the article, that trolls are absurd deviants who, when unmasked, are feeble, unhappy people who do not pose a real threat to anyone. All the bluster and intimidation is made possible by masquerading in the shadows.

4.3       Case Study 3.

KATIE HOPKINS: Cheryl, dear, don’t reach for your lawyers every time some idiot on social media insults you – reach for your self-respect. It’s cheaper

By Katie Hopkins for the Mail Online November 24, 2015.

Hopkins (2015)

 4.3.1    Synopsis of the text

This text (see appendix C), begins with Hopkins explaining that the singer and talent show judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has taken legal action against a photographer who took pictures of her in the bathroom at the recent British Fashion Awards. It was claimed that three white lines in the photograph may have been cocaine. The photograph appeared on Instagram but was soon removed.

This is not the first time that Ms Fernandez-Versini has taken legal action against someone. Lord Sugar also got into trouble recently for suggesting that the singer was too thin. Another talent show judge, Amanda Holden, spoke out to say that when you are in the public eye you have to accept that people will talk about you. Hopkins thinks this is a sensible approach.

Hopkins then writes a humorous and tongue-in-cheek list of five basic rules that everyone should follow in order to enjoy social media sites. These all parody the worst sorts of trolling behaviour giving an example of the type of person you are likely to encounter. It is suggested that if Ms Fernandez-Versini were to learn these rules, she would be able to hold her head high and remind the haters to deal with their own problems.

4.3.2    Text analysis

In the headline, Hopkins appears to be reaching out with a personal communication to Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. The message is to not take legal action “every time some idiot on social media” insults her. The writer advises employing self-respect as it is cheaper. Addressing Ms Fernandez-Versini as “dear” may be interpreted as a term of affection although it has a hint of condescension.

The insult Hopkins is referring to is that Ms Fernandez-Versini had been photographed, without her knowledge, in a bathroom at the British Fashion Awards. The photograph was then uploaded to Instagram where it was debated whether three white lines in the picture may have been cocaine. The photograph was clearly a breach of privacy issue and comes under the theme of outing and trickery in cyberbullying definitions. The photograph has since been removed. It is suggested that Ms Fernandez-Versini’s lawyers arranged this but there is no confirming statement of that.

Hopkins suggests that Ms Fernandez-Versini should not be so sensitive to the behaviour of others and supports that with an indirect quote from another media personality “Amanda says celebrities have to accept people are going to say stuff about them”. Hopkins states that “People need to wise-up to a few basic rules of social media”. Using the collective noun this covers everyone, including the reader, to the advice she has to offer.

Hopkins then lists five likely behaviours one will encounter on social media sites and labels them each with collective nouns to define a personality type. For example: “1) Men will call you terrible names and threaten to rape you with a machete…”. Further description of this character’s profile summarises him as an amoral, sexist football-hooligan who still lives at home with his mum. Other examples include strangers who call you names and menopausal women who will stalk you. These are clearly a satirical poke at the trolls and serves to mock and belittle them and their loathsome behaviour. By othering the personality types the writer sets them apart from us, the reader.

Having listed the farcical characters, Hopkins addresses Cheryl by name again, that “Once you know the rules of social media… remind the haters to deal with their own issues first”. The message also serves all readers of the Daily Mail to follow this set of guidelines. Hopkins is an outspoken columnist and as such has attracted a lot of negative attention on social media sites. Her views do not conform to the conventions of political correctness but she champions free speech and traditional British values.

4.4     Case Study 4.

Twitter’s a sewer – so I’m quitting: SARAH VINE explains why she is ‘celebrating’ site’s tenth birthday by closing her account

By Sarah Vine for the Daily Mail March 23, 2016.

Vine (2016)

 4.4.1    Synopsis of the text

In the final text (see appendix D), Vine observes that social media site Twitter has been operational for ten years. She adds that this is no cause for celebration unless you enjoy an open sewer flowing into your computer. The networking site had initially appealed to her as it seemed an exciting way of sharing experiences on a variety of topics.

Vine notes that as Twitter grew in popularity it changed from a civilised and happy place to one inhabited by trolls and trollops. She adds that Twitter has also become a platform for publicity-seeking wannabes, bullies, political extremists, terrorists, racists and pornographers. She likens Twitter to an innocent baby growing into a juvenile thug.

Referring to the Brussels atrocity which had happened the previous day, Vine gives examples of the range of vacuous commentary that flooded the site with no useful or constructive purpose. She asserts that Twitter offers a dystopian vision of society when all boundaries of civilised behaviour are removed.

Vine shares that she has been targeted by trolls and although she has tried to reason with them it is pointless, likening the experience to that of facing a medieval mob with pitchforks and torches. She is hopeful that Twitter will die as research shows that the number of Tweets per day has more than halved since 2014. The text ends with Vine declaring her intention to delete her Twitter account and gives thanks and apologies to her followers.

4.4.2    Text analysis

The headline is quite informal in style and gets directly to the point, informing the reader metaphorically: “Twitter’s a sewer – so I’m quitting”. The theme continues into the first paragraph. After highlighting the word “celebrate” twice within quotation marks, to emphasise that Twitter has been active for ten years, it is clear that this is not an occasion that gives the writer any pleasure. Twitter is likened to a “giant open sewer flowing into your computer”. The imagery suggests an outflow of filth from foul-smelling, rat-infested gutters. This is a very powerful opening which will have a captivating effect on the reader.

The writer relates that as Twitter increased in popularity, it changed from a happy place to exchange views to one “dominated by trolls and trollops”.   The direct opposition is emphasised by the use of alliteration in describing the overbearing bullies. This is reiterated in othering an American reality television star and describing her sort with pre-modified nouns “glorified nonentities” and “vacuous wannabes”.

One particular type of bully is identified by naming, that of “the self-righteous Left screaming down any opinion that doesn’t mirror their half-baked philosophies”. Here Vine declares her own political stance clearly aligned with the Daily Mail reader. A three-part list describes another selection of othering, adding ironically that Twitter also “happily functions as a network for terrorists, racists and pornographers”. The most “disgusting” in opposition to “normal life”.

Vine uses an interesting literary technique in personifying Twitter as “an enchanting baby born with such hope” who has grown up to became “the most vicious of juvenile thugs”. In using this technique, the reader can see Twitter as a horrible person, not someone to associate with.  The personification theme is used again, referring to the number of tweets sent per day which has halved, stating “Twitter is dying”. This is welcome news to Vine, described as “a chink of light” which reminds the reader of the dark sewer that Twitter has become.

As the wife of a Conservative politician (Michael Gove), Vine makes clear her own political allegiance and lists that as a result of that and things that she has written she “had people wishing me, my husband and my children dead”. Her own harassment is subtly balanced in supporting the Labour MP Luciana Berger, who has been the target of anti-Semitic abuse on Twitter. By drawing attention to their political differences and yet complimenting and showing support to Berger, the writer is implying that it is alright to have different views without verbally attacking or threatening others – something which Twitter users seem unable to do.

The photograph accompanying this article also features Luciana Berger. It is a head and shoulders shot with microphones visible in the bottom of the frame. She is looking off into the distance to her left, her mouth open, mid-speech. The backdrop of plain red fills the frame and clearly places her in the left-wing faction. This is again demonstrating balance and support as previously mentioned. The writer could easily have chosen a Conservative MP who has been affected by trolls but by choosing a Labour MP this shows the writer as well-balanced and fair.

4.5     Summary of analysis

There is extensive use of a variety of literary techniques evident within all four stories. These various tools serve to add emphasis to what the writers wanted to say regarding cyberbullying or how the victims are perceived. Johnson uses three-point lists throughout her stories to emphasis her definitions. Atkinson states: “One of the attractions of three-part lists is that they create an impression of completeness” (2005: 196). This is a subtle and effective method of conveying information, often used by politicians and public speakers.

Cyberbullies are referred to as trolls throughout the second and fourth stories. They are further defined by all writers in negative naming terms. Johnson uses the theme of insanity; strange people, mad bats, hypocrites, lunatics, cowards and bullies. Vine refers to trolls and trollops, vicious juvenile thugs, a cacophony of voices shouting, vitriolic, shameless and vile. Hopkins names them as idiots and haters. Evans observes: “The way we name things can tell people a lot about the way we see the world… Naming is of particular significance in the language of powerful or influential people and institutions” (2013). The way things are named shapes the readers view in an ideological sense.

Throughout the texts, all the writers express their disapproval of the practice of cyberbullying on social media sites with strong and effective language. Johnson speaks of the horrible practice and that it is all very unpleasant. Hopkins calls it a game. Vine describes the attention-seeking vulgarity, awash with ugliness. Fairclough states: “that the exercise of power, in modern society, is increasingly achieved through ideology, and more particularly through the ideological workings of language” (2001: 2) The writers are quite explicit in their definitions; trolls are represented by everything that is mad, sad and bad in in society, described in literary terms, in opposition to ‘us’, the sane, happy and virtuous reader. The trolls are spoken of with disdain, mocked and ridiculed. They are objects to pity.

The three columnists are all mature women and mothers who have achieved success in their careers. They each have first-hand experience of the outing and trickery and harassment issues of which they write and share these with the reader in anecdotes through their columns in the Daily Mail. This newspaper is a right-wing tabloid which broadly supports all things traditional and British. According to Bishop: “This shows how the media will in a calculated way present people in visually distinct ways depending on the agenda of the journalist or newspaper” (2014: 21). This shared information and character representation of the cyberbully serves to connect with the reader more intimately. As a result, the writers can impart their knowledge, wisdom and coping strategies as a shared ideology with the reader.

4.6     Discussion

Bullying is often thought of as a children’s playground activity which includes name-calling, pushing or hitting and generally just being mean towards one another. This behaviour takes on new dimensions in the cyber-world. It is no longer a one-to-one situation contained within a small community. Whatever is said or revealed online can be copied and shared around the globe within a relatively short period of time, even if the original post is removed or deleted. The online bully can also hide their identity under a false name and is likely to be more daring or threatening when anonymous. Cyberbullying affects children and adults and in the more serious cases of harassment have led to criminal charges being brought against the perpetrators and can be punished with a prison sentence.

All state schools in the UK have to have behavioural policies by law and these include procedures to deal with bullying behaviour. The adolescent years are fraught with anxiety. The transition to adulthood with all the bodily developments and hormonal changes can be an emotional experience. Teenagers in particular, want to feel that they ‘belong’ within their group and to be isolated by others at this fragile, sensitive time can be devastating.

For many years, in post-war Britain, children were sent out to play and only came home for meals and before it got dark. In communities where everyone knew each other it was considered safe. As time has gone on these practices have had to stop. Roads are much busier, there are less open spaces to play in and communities are not as tight-knit as they used to be. When two-year-old James Bulger was abducted and murdered in 1993, the atrocity was compounded when it was learned that his killers were aged just 10 and 11. Added to this is the constant stranger danger which has permeated our society and the more recent profusion of paedophiles who have been exposed. This has led to a restriction of freedom for the younger generations. Along with advancements in technology, it is now considered safer to have the children at home playing on games consoles.

This generation have grown up in a digital world. They have smartphones and use social media sites to communicate with each other. De Singly observes: “At a time when this generation gap is widening, children have more expertise in the use of digital tools but do not apply the appropriate safeguards.” (ca.2016). Children need supervision and guidance in their use of online platforms. Parental controls can ensure that only age-appropriate content is viewed or online time is limited to certain times when it can be monitored.

4.7     Other solutions to combat cyberbullying

Recognising the seriousness of the situation has led to some innovative research into cyberbullying. Dinaker et al, researchers at MIT, have designed a computer programme which they hope will reduce cyberbullying. Based on a set of algorithms that detect potentially hurtful sequences of words from a data base, they believe the system could be used on social media sites to flag up messages before they are sent. The system uses natural language processing which learns as it goes. “We use these models to power reflective user-interaction to foster empathy among social network participants, automatically index educational material for victims and perpetrators, and a dashboard to help site moderators prioritize user complaints” (2012). The system would allow users to reconsider what they have written before they press send. With the opportunity to reflect, users may avoid the spontaneous, heat of the moment transmission of potentially hurtful and upsetting comments.

Another experimental study towards raising awareness and reducing cyberbullying has been developed by Tanrikulu, Kinay and Aricak. The Sensibility Development Program against Cyberbullying (SDPaCB), is a programme intended for use by school counsellors to work with groups of students aged 15-18, “to help students develop sensitivity to cyberbullying to protect themselves from cyberbullying” (2015: 711). Over five therapy sessions which cover cyberbullying awareness, internet security, and coping strategies, the goal is to “ensure that individuals can control their lives efficiently” (2015:711). Results from the study, which took place in Turkey showed there was a marked improvement in the “level of sensibility” following the sessions.

There have been debates both for and against regulating the internet for many years. As mentioned in chapter 2.9, back in 1997 legislation was introduced to cover harassment and that applies whether it is harassment in person or online. Other legal solutions to cyberbullying were discussed in chapter 2.8, listing the current legislation which covers the spectrum of cyberbullying. The main non-legal solution in dealing with cyberbullying according to Gillespie is education: “Educating adolescents could take two formats: helping victims to understand the dangers and how to take simple steps to minimise any threat and educating those who believe that cyber-bullying is harmless” (2006: 135). This would enable individuals to exert their rights to free speech while also respecting themselves and others.



This study has outlined the issues around cyberbullying and presented a brief account of how cyberbullying is represented in the Daily Mail newspaper. The study was limited to stories featuring two themes under the definitions of cyberbullying; harassment and outing and trickery. The Critical Discourse Analysis method was chosen to complete qualitative research in order to analyse the language of the text, the processes of production and reception of the text and the wider social context.

The findings show that although cyberbullying is a serious issue, the representation of the bullies, named as trolls, was addressed quite humorously. They were mocked and parodied, likened to sewer-dwellers, labelled insane and miscreant cowards. These definitions from mature women writers puts a quite different perspective on the cyberbully. They are still faceless, nameless, vindictive and threatening but underneath, they are just ordinary, flawed people living in their make-believe worlds where they feel powerful and invincible. Wherever possible they should be ignored, pitied or ridiculed.

The number of people affected and the extent of cyberbullying indicates that it is a subject in need of more research. Further language studies into other themes of cyberbullying or through other newspapers may yield more varied results. It is evident that cyberbullying is a pandemic problem and will be around for the foreseeable future as one more generation after another are affected. With that in mind, other solutions towards prevention of cyberbullying should be sought.



ATKINSON, Max. 2005. Lend Me Your Ears: All You Need to Know About Making Speeches and Presentations. London: Oxford University Press.

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Appendix A: News story 1. Rachel Johnson January 20, 2013

Appendix B: News story 2. Rachel Johnson October 19, 2014  

Appendix C: News story 3.  Katie Hopkins November 24, 2015

Appendix D: News story 4. Sarah Vine March 23, 2016    


This essay examines literary journalism and expands on the various genre contained within. Historical references are used to discuss the differences between traditional and literary journalism. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer, are analysed to consider the different approaches to writing non-fiction novels and the ethical issues that arise.


The main problem in defining literary journalism is the sheer number of descriptive terms used. Anu Nousiainen observes:

“Journalists and scholars haven’t been able to agree even on a name. The form has been called literary journalism, literary nonfiction, nonfiction novel, art journalism, factual fiction, journalistic nonfiction, New journalism, creative nonfiction, literature of fact, journalit and non-imaginative literature” (2012:6).

Reputable academic institutions also disagree. The Nieman Narrative Program prefer the term ‘narrative journalism’ whereas the International Association for Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS) use the term ‘literary journalism’. Mark Kramer finds “the “literary” part self-congratulating and the “journalism” part masking the form’s inventiveness”. Although he concedes the term is “roughly accurate” (1995:1).

Traditional journalism

Journalism has evolved from the invention of the Gutenberg press to the digital age. Within liberal democratic societies, legislation underpins what may be printed in what is called the free press. Along the way journalists have developed a set of principles to work within. Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel explain them as elements: “The first among them is that the purpose of journalism is to provide people with the information they need to be free and self-governing” (2007:5).

News stories were traditionally loquacious and descriptive narrative. Two inventions contributed towards changes in journalistic writing. Following the invention of the telegraph (1844), it became possible to transmit information by wire across vast distances. News on wars and natural disasters became available in hours rather than the weeks or months it had previously taken. In the early years the telegraph was unreliable so journalists “learned to transmit their information in bursts, with the most important facts first” (DeSilva 2007:117). This was the origin of the ‘inverted pyramid’, which includes the who, what, when, where, why and how material of a story in descending importance, which can be cut from the bottom to fit the space available. A formula still observed in traditional objective journalism.

Photography was first used in war reporting by Roger Fenton during the Crimean War (1854-1856). Phillip Knightley remarks that although the camera does not lie directly, Fenton’s staged photographs “portray a war where everything looks ship-shape and everyone happy. They show well-dressed officers and men eating, drinking, or smoking” (2004:14). The propaganda photographs did not reflect the true situation reported by William Howard Russell, “the sick have not a bed to lie upon? They are landed and thrown into a ricketty house without a chair or table in it” (2004:6).

Literary journalism

Literary journalism, in its simplest definition, is a form of writing non-fiction using the narrative techniques and styles usually associated with works of fiction. It should still convey the truthful reporting of news or events with an accurate representation of dialogue. The aim of literary journalism is to communicate characters and a plot written in artistic and creative language in which the reader feels immersed, drawn into the story.

Tom Wolfe describes four main devices used by literary journalists. These are the same devices fiction writers use, summarised as:

  1. Scene by scene construction
  2. Dialogue
  3. Third person point of view
  4. Status life (1996:46).

Literary journalism does not follow the structure conventions of traditional journalism such as the inverted pyramid. Instead, flashbacks, flash-forwards and juxtaposed storylines are often used to convey immediacy and give the narrative a “gripping or absorbing quality” (1996:46). This is often achieved through subjective narrative and an omniscient narrator.

Early literary journalists

Daniel Defoe, better known for his novels Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders is also considered to be one of the earliest literary journalists for his 1704 work, The Storm (Miller:2011). Following the great storm of November 1703, Defoe wrote to clergymen all over the UK to request they write and submit their true accounts of the storm, the damage caused and the number of casualties. These letters were printed to convey “hereby to the Ages to come the Memory of the dreadfulest and most universal Judgment that ever Almighty Power thought fit to bring upon this Part of the World” (Defoe 2013:9).

By allowing the letters to set the scene, communicate their own dialogue, express the third-person point of view and status details, Defoe allowed “Others speak for themselves, and being writ by Men of Letters, as well as Men of Principles, I have not Arrogance enough to attempt a Correction either of the Sense or Stile; and if I had gone about it, should have injur’d both Author and Reader” (2013:8).

Nousiainen observes that by the late nineteenth century, two styles of journalism had developed:

“The newer of these two attempted to appear neutral in tone, and it is what we

now call objective reporting. The other one had been around much longer: it was this type of subjective journalistic writing that the modern narrative journalism derives from” (2012:15).

Other early literary journalists include George Orwell who wrote Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). Rejecting imperialism and the bourgeois lifestyle, Orwell spent time living and working in the slums of Paris and London “in which actual incidents are rearranged into something like fiction” (Woodcock ca 2015).

New Journalism

In the autumn of 1962, Esquire magazine printed a story by Gay Talese on the Boxer, Joe Louis. It caught the attention of Tom Wolfe who was fascinated with the writing style: “The piece didn’t open like an ordinary magazine article at all. It opened with the tone and mood of a short story” (1996:23). Wolfe was fascinated because Talese was normally a more restrained writer for The New York Times.

In 1963, a work colleague of Wolfe’s at The New York Herald Tribune, Jimmy Breslin, wrote “one of the most memorable newspaper columns of all time” (Shedden:2014). Titled It’s an Honor, it tells the story of President John Kennedy’s funeral from the point of view of the gravedigger, Clifton Pollard.

Wolfe’s first experiment with New Journalism, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby was published in Esquire magazine in 1963. Dwight Macdonald, writing in The New York Review of Books, described it as an example of “parajournalism”. Speaking of the new genre, he said the New Journalists had created “a bastard form, having it both ways, exploiting the factual authority of journalism and the atmospheric license of fiction” (Beuttler:1984).

Wolfe puzzled over the suggestion that the new style journalism was somehow “illegitimate” before realising that “the sudden arrival of this new style of journalism… had caused a status panic in the literary community” (1996:39). He compared the various literary functions to an eighteenth-century class structure. “The literary upper class were the novelists… the middle class were the ‘men of letters’… the lower class were the journalists” (1996:39). New Journalism was invading the other’s territory, upsetting the established order.

Talese, also strove to breakout, to write “the literature of reality” (cited in Brown 2015:39). Born to Italian immigrant parents, Talese felt like a “factional American”, adding that Italian-Americans were mostly labourers, downtrodden people and “if they were depicted in popular culture at all, it was as gangsters” (cited in Brown 2015:39). Talese was motivated to:

“break through and achieve status in a world dominated by fiction… I wanted to write the great non-fiction work. I wanted to achieve a place for myself… that was worthy of respect and didn’t have to measure up against these foppish f**king fiction writers that got all the glory. That was my private battle: to elevate journalism, because we were the underclass” (cited in Brown 2015:41).

Gonzo journalism

An off-shoot of New Journalism, this was Hunter S Thompson’s self-labeled, subversive writing style. Whereas other writers made their presence invisible, Thompson immersed himself in the world and lives of his subjects and used first person narrative which “made the I story his territory” (Nuttall 2007:136). While writing his first non-fiction novel, Hell’s Angels, Thompson learned of the dangers of immersion and was badly beaten for criticising the gang’s culture.

New New Journalism

This progressive form of literary journalism finds a new generation of contemporary, mainly American writers, using new methods and approaches to experiment with non-fiction in reporting and novels. Robert S. Boynton explains:

“The New New Journalists bring a distinct set of cultural and social concerns to their work. Neither frustrated novelists nor wayward newspaper reporters, they tend to be magazine and book writers who have benefited enormously from both the legitimacy Wolfe’s legacy has brought to literary nonfiction, and from the concurrent displacement of the novel as the most prestigious form of literary expression” (ca. 20051).

Jon Krakauer writes of the experience of climbing Mount Everest in Into Thin Air, an extreme feat by anyone’s standard of immersion towards a subject. Similarly, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc spent over ten years consumed with the subjects and their stories of drug use, crime and poverty in the Bronx in her book, Random Family. At times she was so tired that she passed her tape recorder to the subject and left them to “Do whatever you want with it” (Boynton ca. 20052).

Literary journalism in the digital age

New techniques of literary journalism have continued to evolve into the digital age. A Pew Research Center study, identifies the “Millennial generation” referring to those born after 1980:

“The first generation to come of age in the new millennium… They are history’s first “always connected” generation. Steeped in digital technology and social media, they treat their multi-tasking hand-held gadgets almost like a body part” (Taylor and Keeter 2010).

This generation want to be engaged on multimedia platforms and there is much scope for literary journalism. One example of an emerging form is Snow Fall by John Branch. A multimedia feature published on The New York Times webpage in 2012. It includes videos, maps and graphics as well as text to show and tell the story of the Tunnel Creek avalanche. Another form, flash fiction – the new definition for the short-short story has found a niche in non-fiction writing with online magazine Brevity.

Analysis of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer

 Overview and Intention

Both these non-fiction novels give accounts of murders and the legal processes that brought the criminals to justice. Both authors were successful novelists before venturing into the non-fiction genre and both conducted extensive research to recreate their stories. Capote travelled to Kansas to interview everyone who knew the deceased family and interviewed the killers many times over a five-year period leading up to their execution. Mailer never met his subject but wrote his book from tape-recorded interviews and letters as well as visiting Utah for further research material.

Published in 1965, In Cold Blood reconstructs the 1959 murders of Kansas farmer Herbert Clutter and his family. Following the arrest, trial and conviction of Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, Capote’s intention was to understand the impact of the crime on the family and the inhabitants of the close community.

Fourteen years later The Executioner’s Song was published. It chronicles Gary Gilmore’s last nine months following his release from prison in 1976 through the events that led to his execution in Utah in January 1977. Photographer Lawrence Schiller, secured the rights to Gilmore’s story with the intention of making a film, needing a screenwriter, he contacted Mailer.

Structure and Style

Capote’s book consists of four parts which each juxtapose events in parallel timelines between the family or community and the killers as their lives collide with tragic consequences for all. Although all events are recorded in a precise chronological format, biographical and historical information on the two killers is woven into the narrative in part two (Perry) and part three (Hickock). It is a concise book of 336 pages.

Mailer’s two-in-one book however, is an expansive work of 1,050 pages. Book One, ‘Western Voices’ has seven parts, each of which journals Gilmore’s story from different points of view, those of his family, friends and victims. Although each part of this book is in chronological order, the timelines overlap as each part is taken from a different character’s perspective. Book Two, ‘Eastern Voices’ also has seven parts in which the processes of American law are explained alongside the media involvement around Gilmore. This book also explains how the first book came to be written.

Capote’s technique is more effective in leading the reader through the story. In The Last to see Them Alive, long passages of the Clutters last day alternate with shorter passages of Perry and Hickock on their journey West, building suspense towards their inevitable meeting. A single paragraph of Perry and Hickock’s arrival at the Clutter property spells doom: “Dick doused the headlights, slowed down and stopped until his eyes were adjusted to the moon-illuminated night. Presently, the car crept forward” (2000:56). Capote then cuts to the next morning which leaves the reader eager to discover what happened next.

On the other hand, the overlapping timelines used by Mailer are confusing and distracting while the reader tries to work out where one character’s story fits in alongside another. Mailer emulates Capote’s style in part four, The Gas Station and the Motel, interspersing the narrative between Colleen Jensen the morning after her husband was killed and Gilmore and April waking up in the Holiday Inn.

“By 6.30 when Monica awoke in the dawn, Colleen was saying to herself that she was still alive, and her baby was still alive… So she went in and greeted Monica with “Good morning” and picked her up and loved her and gave her a bath and got her ready for the day.

When the light came through the window, April and Gary dressed and he took her home…” (2014: 237-238).

As Capote’s book begins with the last day the Clutter’s were alive, so Mailer’s book starts with the first day of Gilmore’s freedom. This reversal of structure may have been a deliberate move by Mailer to demonstrate that his book was different, not a copy of Capote’s style.

Literary Devices

Capote and Mailer both use cinematic and literary devices within their narratives. Descriptive scenes set up the action. Short passages and transitions cut to new scenes. Each uses the devices differently, to their strengths to emphasize the facts and engage the reader.

Both authors use scene by scene construction, blending the information they gathered descriptively into the narrative. Similarly, both authors use the voice of the omniscient narrator to detach themselves from the story. Mailer uses a more colloquial language style which gives the reader more of a sense of ‘being there’. This could have been a deliberate styling decision by Mailer to avoid comparison with Capote’s previous work which uses a more formal, detached style. This may also be explained in that Mailer used tape recorded interviews and was able to incorporate the noticeable regional accents in his narrative. Capote never took notes when interviewing and his narrative misses the vernacular tone which only comes through in passages of dialogue.

Capote uses dialogue sparsely. For example: “Mr. Clutter had just one serious cause for disquiet – his wife’s health. She was ‘nervous’, she suffered ‘little spells’” (2000:4). “Nancy… still managed to ‘practically run that big house’” (2000:16). These give the impression of dialogue, things the Clutters said themselves, when of course they were said by people who knew the Clutters.

Conversely, Mailer uses dialogue extensively within the individual character’s stories. ““Guns?” she said. “Yes,” he said, “guns.” She asked where he got them. “Where do you think? I stole them.” Katherine just said, “Oh.” Right there on the back of her car he started bringing them out for examination…” (2014:181). This technique is successful in carrying the reader along in the story.

Both authors use free indirect speech to give the third person point of view, to allow the reader to experience the feeling of being in the mind of the character.  In Capote’s book for example: “In the solitary, comfortless course of his recent driftings, Perry had over and over again reviewed this indictment, and decided it was unjust” (2000:43).

Mailer, likewise, in Nicole’s story, blends her consciousness with his observations: “She hadn’t been thinking in such a way for quite a while. Now that feeling was around her again. She knew what he meant” (2014:73). Mailer’s one exception in use of free indirect speech was Gilmore. The reader hears about him from other characters and his own statements are evident in the interview transcripts but the reader is not given an opportunity to see inside his mind.

Capote describes his character’s status life in great detail but mainly from the point of view of the narrator in rich, colourful language. Mr. Clutter is observed getting dressed in “whipcord trousers, a cattleman’s jacket, and soft stirrup boots…” (2000:6). Mr. Clutter’s achievements are listed as: “Framed documents commemorating milestones in his career gleamed against the walnut walls of his office…” (2000:45).

In contrast the language Mailer uses is plain and understated: “For a young Mormon couple, they lived well. They had steaks in the freezer and loved to go out and get pizzas” (2014:329). Mailer also conveys status life more effectively through dialogue: ““Daddy bought me a new typewriter today.” Ava told Bessie…” (2014:320).

 Ethical Issues

All journalism should be guided by the principles of truth and accuracy; traditional journalists would also add objectivity. Literary journalism has been criticised for its subjective nature; in adding the thoughts and feelings of a character to the narrative. Isabel Wilkerson asserts: “Narrative writers must strike a careful balance: caring about our subjects without sacrificing our narratives” (Kramer and Call 2007:172). Literary journalists would argue that the length of time spent ‘immersed’ with their subjects allow them to observe and hear firsthand such information and incorporate it into the narrative.

Capote claimed in the ‘Acknowledgements’ of In Cold Blood that it was completely factual, he later admitted that he had used ‘composite characters’ as it was not possible to include all individual contributions. It also emerged that the final chapter – a meeting between detective Dewey and Nancy’s friend Susan, was in fact made up; to give the story a nicer ending than the execution.

Mailer writes in ‘An Afterword’ of The Executioner’s Song that: “This book does its best to be a factual account of the activities of Gary Gilmore…” (2014:1051). He does however confess to the creative licence of adding the ‘Old Prison Rhyme’ and that some of Gilmore’s interviews were “trimmed and very occasionally a sentence was transposed…. to treat him decently” (2014:1052). It is worth noting that this book was nominated for Pulitzer awards in both the fiction and non-fiction categories. It won the former.


Traditional journalism remains encased in the inverted pyramid holding onto its strong principle of objectivity. Literary journalism continues to grow like a rhizome, evolving with the technology of the twenty-first century to offer writers another platform of subjective expression. There is room for both.

The underlying foundation of all journalism is that it remains truthful. If something is not seen or heard, witnessed or verified, it should not be reported as true. The claims of Capote and Mailer in writing true-crime, which then emerged as slightly altered to fit in with the tone of the story, may undermine those who strive for honesty.

Both Capote and Mailer’s books have their merits. In Cold Blood for its descriptive scenes and progressive structure, The Executioner’s Song for its engaging, realistic dialogue. What cannot be disputed is that both books have achieved classic status and continue to be the subject of debate in journalism studies.


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 The main reason for the phenomenal success of the internet is in its simplicity. The transmission of information down a telephone line and the use of a ‘modem’ to translate signals enabled anyone with a ‘landline’ to connect to the network. Data from Ofcom (2004) reveals that in 2002 there were 35 million fixed residential and business telephone lines in the UK. In 2015, 66 percent of the adult population of the UK owned a smartphone (Ofcom: 2015).

The advent of the internet and progression of digital technologies has had many positive benefits transforming the way we live and work and had a significant impact on commercial ventures. It is worth noting that for the millennials, the generation who came of age in the new millennium, the change has not been noticeable as they have grown up using this technology in their everyday lives and throughout their education. A report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) states: “In 2015, 86 percent of households in Great Britain (22.5 million) had internet access, up from 57 percent in 2006… when directly comparable records began” (2015). Some of the most common uses of the internet include:

  • Email – correspondence that may have previously have taken days has become instant online. Figures from the BBC calculate: “Two million e-mails are sent every minute in the UK. That is almost three billion each day” (Limberg: 2008).
  • Banking and shopping – The UK spent £6.31 billion with the online shopping site Amazon in 2015 (Spanier: 2016).
  • Social networking – We are able to communicate and keep in touch with friends and old classmates globally. The ONS reports: “Social networking was used by 61 percent of adults, and of those, 79 percent did so every day or almost every day” (2015).
  • Dating – Studies by the Online Dating Association show that 27 percent of new relationships begin through online dating sites or mobile apps. The value of the online dating market in the UK was £165 million in 2013 (Magrina: 2015).
  • Information searches – From the origin of the universe to the life-cycle of a moth, weather forecasts, maps, recipes, your nearest chemist shop, someone has probably written something about it.

As the internet has become an integral part of our lives in work and socially, this has provided new opportunities for criminals. Crime committed by use of the internet is known as cybercrime. It is especially insidious as Marsh and Melville explain: “…the ‘virtual offender’ is able to enter the victim’s personal space… This crime has none of the conventional boundaries that we associate with criminal behaviour – victim and perpetrator can be in different cities, countries or continents” (2009:154).

In their analysis of cybercrime, McGuire and Dowling define cybercrime in two categories: “Cyber-dependent crimes are offences that can only be committed by using a computer, computer networks, or other form of ICT” (2013: 5). These include the use of malicious software to spread viruses and hacking into business and personal computers. “Cyber-enabled crimes are traditional crimes that are increased in their scale or reach by the use of computers, computer networks or other ICT. Unlike cyber-dependent crimes, they can still be committed without the use of ICT” (2013:5). Many ‘traditional’ forms of crime have a cyber equivalent. Theft includes personal information and data leading to identity theft. Fraud incorporates online scams and ‘phishing’ emails.

Crime stories are newsworthy and serve as a commodity in the media industries to increase profit. Every day, television and internet news bulletins and newspaper headlines draw our attention to crime stories. Chibnall observes: “Newspapers and television do not merely monitor the events of the real world; they construct representations and accounts of reality which are shaped by the constraints imposed upon them” (1977: ix).  Media coverage will induce many emotional responses from the audience depending on the type and severity of crime that has been committed. Murder and violent crime for example may evoke shock, sadness, anger, despair and fear. As a civilised society we want the perpetrators to be caught and punished appropriately so we follow the updates on these stories hoping that justice will be served. Chibnall adds: “Crime news may serve as a focus for the articulation of shared morality and communal sentiments. A chance not simply to speak to the community but to speak for the community, against all that the criminal outsider represents” (1977: x).

Fascination with crime permeates into our popular culture. Films, books, television dramas, video games and music abound with crime themes. Our interest in crime is not a modern phenomenon, as Jewkes observes: “Students and researchers of both criminology and media studies have sought to understand the connections between media and crime for well over a century” (2005:3). From the safety of our homes we can be entertained with the thrilling dichotomy between good and evil.

It is a subject of scholarly debate whether crime stories, real or imaginary, have any effect on criminal behaviour. An early USA study in 1928, the pre-television era, looked at the effects on attitudes, behaviour and emotions of young people who watched films with a crime theme. Marsh and Melville summarise: “As with many later studies the findings were inconclusive with no consistent relationship found between cinema attendance and criminal behaviour” (2009:16). Jewkes expands that the influence of the media on an audience’s behaviour and opinions may be interpreted positively or negatively depending on the viewpoint of the source information. In looking for links between crime and media content there are opposing views, “…ranging from the idea that the media industry is responsible for much of the crime that blights our society, to the idea that media perform a public service in educating us about crime and thus aid crime prevention” (2005:36).

Serious crime is quite rare in the UK so when it occurs its significance as news of national importance will ensure it receives a prominent position in the headlines.  Williams and Dickinson’s study in to the fear of crime summarises: “Crime reporting in the news media has been a focus of concern because of the assumption that the salience given to certain types of crime, notably those involving sex or violence, creates a distorted picture of reality which is reflected in the beliefs of news consumers” (1993: 33). To contextualise this, Williams and Dickinson cite Ditton and Duffy’s 1983 analysis of crime reports from three Scottish newspapers. Crime stories represented 6.5 percent of the total news with just under half (45.8%) involving violence or sexual crimes. “These proportions were compared to police statistics that show just 2.4 per cent of crime in the locality to be violent and/or sexual” (1993:35).

Stories on cybercrime have become a daily occurrence in the national media. This is an indication of the extent of the problem. Historically it was difficult to assess the number of cybercrimes committed and the cost to individuals and businesses. This was due to the UK having no central authority recording the statistics of cybercrime. Also within UK legislation, when reporting and prosecuting a crime, there is no distinction made between cyber and traditional crime. A third factor was that victims of online banking fraud were previously told by police to report the crime to their bank instead, with the bank deciding whether to report the offence to the police or not. Recognising the seriousness of online fraud, which has no regard for geographical boundaries, a succession of UK government programmes has been introduced to make changes to the way online fraud and cybercrime is reported. Several units have been created, merged with other units, been renamed and rebranded with similar aims and objectives to the previous units. It is a slow and ongoing process.

Based on the recommendations of the National Fraud Review in 2006, the National Fraud Authority (NFA), was established by the Home Office in 2008. The three objectives of the NFA were; awareness, enforcement and prevention of fraud (NFA: 2011). However, the NFA closed in March 2014. The Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) was also set up in 2008 with the aim of creating a central point to report all online fraud to co-ordinate law enforcement and improve police response to victims. This unit is also now out of service. Ironically, the name PCeU has become better known as a computer virus, a ransomware infection, which displays a bogus notification to trick the user into thinking their computer screen has been locked by the police. The claim is that: “The operating system or internet browser is locked due to a violation of laws, which may include distributing and visiting illegal pornography, such as child pornography, and zoofila, among other false claims” (Doyle: 2015). The user is required to pay a ‘fine’ to unlock their computer.

In 2009, the National Fraud Reporting Centre was renamed Action Fraud. This Home Office agency enables fraud and cybercrime to be reported online, by telephone, through police channels and by businesses. In 2010 the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) was created and overseen by the City of London Police (under the now defunct NFA). Their aims were to harvest information on fraud, analyse the fraud reports and use the intelligence to support law enforcement (NFIB: 2010: 6).  In 2010 a new government agency, the National Crime Agency (NCA) was created. In 2014, Action Fraud partnered with the NFIB and the two agencies now work together under the NCA to gather and collate cybercrime and fraud statistics. Within all of this bureaucratic renaming and reshuffling the true cost and extent of cybercrime was obscured.

The most reliable cybercrime statistics emerged in a 2011 Cabinet Office report by Detica in partnership with the Office of Cyber Security and Information. The cost of cybercrime to the UK was calculated at £27bn per annum (2011: 3). This is broken down into three sections.

  • Cost to the government: £2.2bn per annum. Comprising of tax fraud, benefits fraud, pension fraud and NHS fraud (2011: 19).
  • Cost to citizens: £3.1bn per annum. This is further broken down into £1.7bn in identity theft, £1.4bn in online scams and £30m in fake anti-virus software and scareware (2011: 18).
  • Cost to businesses: £21bn per annum. The main areas of crime include £9.2bn from IP theft, £7.6bn from industrial espionage, £2.2bn from extortion, £1.3bn from direct online theft and £1bn from loss or theft of customer data 2011: 19).

In October 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) included cybercrime and fraud offences in their figures for the first time. As a result, a true representation of the numbers of cybercrimes committed in England and Wales became available. In a summary of the findings by the Daily Telegraph, correspondent Leon Watson stated:

“There were 5.1 million estimated cyber crimes and frauds last year…plus 2.5 million offences under the Computer Misuse Act – hacking, identity theft, malware, and so on. Add these to the 6.5 million crimes recorded in the year to the end of June by the long-running Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) and you get a whacking 14.1 million total” (2015).

In comparing statistics with the previous year, the crime figures appear to have increased 107 percent. However, these cybercrimes already existed, they were just not monitored. In separate research by the charity Victim Support, the extent of fraud may be worse. Director Lucy Hastings states: “We know that the vast majority of fraud goes unreported – largely because victims are too embarrassed to come forward, or are afraid of ridicule” (Watson: 2015).

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that the UK will be increasing the budget towards surveillance and cybercrime by almost £2bn (Burgess: 2015). This is to prevent and respond to any cyberattacks from terrorists. It was also announced that a new National Cyber Centre at GCHQ would be established in 2016.

As new technologies become available, the cyber-criminals are very quickly on the scene with new methods of extortion and scams. Law enforcement agencies are currently at a disadvantage. The first challenge will be in finding the cyber-criminal who is likely to be hiding their identity behind layers of encryption on the ‘Darknet’. The next problem will be in bringing charges against the cyber-criminal who may be in a different country. Gercke observes: “Without the international harmonization of national criminal legal provisions, the fight against transnational cybercrime will run into serious difficulties, due to inconsistent or incompatible national legislations” (2012:83). The Serious Crime Act 2015, and amendments to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 have added substantial penalties including life imprisonment for unlawful acts which cause damage to welfare or security.

An alternative solution to reducing cybercrime would be in making the networks more secure particularly in the business and banking sectors. Stewart James is sceptical: “Taking preventative measures can be seen as an unnecessary cost, business distraction and barrier to business when balanced against the risk of cyber crime occurring and its remedial costs” (2015). The cost of the extra security to businesses is surely worth it as it would improve their brand image and assure customers peace of mind.


LIMBERG, Ben 2008.  ‘E-mail is Ruining My Life’. BBC.co.uk [online]. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7281707.stm [accessed 7 March 2016].

BURGESS, Matt. 2015. ‘UK Will Launch Cyberattacks Against Terrorists, Chancellor Says’. Wired.co.uk [online]. Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-11/17/cybersecurity-budget-double-uk-surveillance-paris [accessed 7 March 2016].

CABINET OFFICE: 2011. The Cost of Cyber Crime. A Detica Report in Partnership with the Office of Cyber Security and Information in the Cabinet Office [online]. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/60943/the-cost-of-cyber-crime-full-report.pdf [accessed 6 March 2016].

CHIBNALL, Steve. 1977. Law-and-Order News: An analysis of crime reporting in the British Press. Abingdon: Tavistock Publications.

DOYLE, Sean. 2015. ‘How to remove Police Central e-crime Unit (Virus Removal)’. Botcrawl.com [online]. Available at: http://botcrawl.com/how-to-remove-the-police-central-e-crime-unit-ransomware-virus-metropolitan-police-crime-directorate-malware/ [accessed 5 March 2016].

GERCKE, Mark. 2012. ‘Understanding Cybercrime: Phenomena, Challenges and Legal Responses’. ITU.int [online]. Available at: https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/cybersecurity-capacity/system/files/CybcrimeE.pdf [accessed 7 March 2016].

JAMES, Stewart. 2015.’Can Legislation Stop Cyber Crime?’ Computer Weekly.com [online]. Available at: http://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/Can-legislation-stop-cyber-crime [accessed 7 March 2016].

JEWKES, Yvonne.2005. Media and Crime. London: Sage.

MAGRINA, Elena. 2015. ‘Dating on the Move: Opportunities and challenges for the online dating industry’ Online Dating Association [online]. Available at: http://www.onlinedatingassociation.org.uk/resources/research/ [accessed 7 February 2016].

MARSH, Ian and Gaynor MELVILLE. 2009. Crime, Justice and the Media. Abingdon: Routledge.

MCGUIRE, Mike and Samantha DOWLING. 2013. ‘Cyber crime: A review of the evidence. Research Report 75’. Home Office [online]. Available at:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/246749/horr75-summary.pdf [accessed 10 February 2016].

NATIONAL FRAUD AUTHORITY. 2011. ‘Fighting Fraud Together: Programme of Activity’ Gov.UK [online]. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/118502/fighting-fraud-together-activity.pdf [accessed 5 March 2016].

NATIONAL FRAUD INTELLIGENCE BUREAU. 2010. ‘’General Guide to the NFIB: Information for Data Providers and the Public’. City of London Police [online]. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/118482/general-guide-nfib.pdf [accessed 5 March 2016].

OFCOM. ORG. 2004. ‘Fixed Telecoms Market Information Update (May 2004)’.  Ofcom [online].

Available at:http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/other/telecoms-research/fix_t_mkt_info/ [accessed 6 February 2016].

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OFFICE FOR NATIONAL STATISTICS. 2015. ‘Statistical bulletin: Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2015’. ONS [online]. Available at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access—households-and-individuals/2015/stb-ia-2015.html [accessed 8 February 2016].

SPANIER, Gideon. 2016. ‘Amazon UK’s annual sales hit £6.3 billion’. Campaign [online]. Available at: http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/amazon-uks-annual-sales-hit-63-billion/1381647 [accessed 7 February 2016].

WATSON, Leon. 2015. ‘Crime soars 107% as cyber offences included for the first time – as it happened’. The Telegraph 15 October [online]. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11932670/Cyber-crime-fuels-70-jump-in-crime-levels.html [accessed 5 March 2016].

WILLIAMS, Paul and Julie DICKINSON. 1993. ‘Fear of Crime: Read all about it? The Relationship between Newspaper Crime Reporting and Fear of Crime’. British Journal of Criminology, 33(1), 33-56.


A moment to reflect

Hook Editorial Team 2015-2016

Hook Editorial Team 2015-2016. Photo source: Greg McKinney

I am taking a short break away from my dissertation. I have a lot of thoughts whirring around in my mind and I want to give them a chance to settle into some sort of logical order.

Since Hook shut down for the summer, I have been maniacally busy constructing my portfolios for submission. The final print made a dent in my printer credit… 110 pages give or take. That was a lot of writing! The dissertation may be something like that too.

I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. Three years ago I was working full-time, anticipating the excitement of a new adventure and now it is drawing to a close.

I will take all the lessons learned and apply them to my writing in the future. It will be a little daunting without the safety net of the tutors for guidance. I am so pleased that I look the opportunity to leave my safe life and experience university and all that it offers. The adventure has opened my mind, kept my outlook youthful and given me confidence to move on to another chapter in my life. So with this ending there is a new beginning.

I will just say finally, good luck to all the 2013-2016 journos and many thanks to all the tutors in particular Dr Hayes Mabweazara, our course tutor and my dissertaion supervisor.

See you all at the Falitzers.

Hook Editorial Team 2015-2016 Photo source Greg McKinney

Hook Editorial Team 2015-2016. Photo source Greg McKinney



Hook will be going offline for the summer as the students who produce it make final preparations for their graduation.

The twenty-eight journalism students, designed and created the online magazine with support from tutors as part of the Multimedia Enterprise module toward their degree qualification.

Contributory writer for Hook, Jennie Kite said: “When we started did a lot of group work and had a lot of meetings for the choice of name for the website…We all had to come up with suggestions and pitch them to Dragon’s Den style.”

The Hook website took six weeks to develop with input from students who participated in every decision from developing the concept for a digital publication, designing the logo and visualising the website.

Since Hook became active the students have published almost 500 news stories and features by holding live news days every Friday, creating the atmosphere of a live newsroom.

Julia writing a news story. Photo source Alex Green

Julia writing a news story. Photo source Alex Green

Lizzy Bailey said: “I really like the whole concept of Hook and how we all work in teams each week. It actually feels like a real newsroom each Friday. I have learnt a lot more about targeting stories, working to a deadline and sub-editing. I have particularly enjoyed filming bulletins and videos to add multimedia elements to our website. I feel proud to be a part of creating the brand Hook at Falmouth University.”

Recalling her experiences, Alice Webber said: “For me, Hook has been an insight into the reality of a newsroom. Thrown in at the deep end, I think we’ve swum rather than sunk!”

Hook will return in the next academic year with a new group of students taking over the reins.

From the class of 2013-2016, good luck!

Genevieve editing a video. Photo source Alex Green

Genevieve editing a video. Photo source Alex Green


Hannah, Jimmy and Dan sub-editing. Photo source Alex Green

Hannah, Jimmy and Dan sub-editing. Photo source Alex Green


Henry writing a feature. Photo source Alex Green

Henry writing a feature. Photo source Alex Green


* Additional credit and thanks to Alex Green for photography and to Genevieve Tyler and Gabrielle Boxall-Legge for production of audio-visual material. 

bazaar book image

When asked to name my favourite authors, it often leads to raised eyebrows when I list Stephen King in the mix. Most people immediately think of King as a horror-story author and indeed over the years there have been some memorable contributions to this genre. Early examples are Carrie (1974) and The Shining (1977), which both made very successful adaptions into film.

But for me there is so much more to King. He has covered a lot of literary ground in a career spanning over fifty years; science fiction, supernatural fiction, dark fantasy, crime fiction, suspense and thrillers. It is often overlooked that King’s novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (1982) was the basis for the film The Shawshank Redemption (1994), widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.

Each of the 20 short stories and poems in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a gem for avid fans, demonstrating the depth of imagination and creativity so characteristic of King- with a liberal sprinkling of macabre humour thrown in for good measure. An interesting addition was an introduction to each story by King, a delightful treat for the “Constant Reader”.

I particularly enjoyed the contemporary stories such as Ur where Wesley Smith, an old-fashioned English teacher, experiences “new technology” by purchasing a Kindle only to discover it has the extraordinary ability of foreseeing the future. Should he use the knowledge he gains to avert a disaster or will dabbling with the timeline have consequences?

Another stand-out story is Obits, in which newly qualified journalist, Michael Anderson, gets a job as the obituary writer for an online newspaper. When denied a pay rise, Anderson writes a fake obituary about his boss which mysteriously comes true. With such power in his hands Anderson realises he can rid the world of evil people, but is that a step too far?

With over 50 novels and nearly 200 short stories published to date, King is a multi-award-winning contemporary author, a master of his craft. This thrilling new collection will not disappoint.

Who knew walking with sticks could be so much fun? Hook’s Alice, Julia and Sarah tried out a taster session of Nordic walking with Walk Kernow, at Trelissick near Truro.

Walk Kernow was set up in 2012 by Kelly Bennett, after experiencing the benefits that Nordic Walking gave her. After losing four stone in a ten-month period through healthy eating and her new love of walking, she wanted to share her passion for this sport and both the physical and mental benefits.

Kelly said: “I began Nordic Walking over five years ago. I’d had enough of being overweight and not having the energy to enjoy my life. Diets alone didn’t work and I hated the gym. Nordic walking uses specially designed poles to enhance your natural walking experience.”

Kelly now runs beginner’s workshops to demonstrate how to use the Nordic Walking technique. After that you can purchase Walk Cards with one, five or ten walk options available. “Each week we run several walks around beautiful areas of the county, come along to as many walks as you like, hiring our poles, or using your own,” Kelly added.

This exercise is suitable for all ages and all levels of fitness, as it is non-invasive and non-weight bearing. It is beneficial for everyone, overweight, underweight, physically fit or struggling with health issues such as osteoporosis or arthritis. The benefits of Nordic walking are endless. It works on your core as well as legs and arms, it uses more skeletal muscles than swimming and mile for mile it is as good as running.

Desmond Harding, former Industrial Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, who was also present at the taster session said: “It was absolutely wonderful. I am just back from France looking for ways to lose weight after all that wine and cheese. I’ve signed up for May, [workshops] my wife doesn’t know it yet but so has she.”

You are encouraged to walk at your own pace and enjoy the scenery across Cornwall as you get out in the fresh air and increase your fitness level. Participants also benefit from the social aspect making friends and connections along the way. The ability to exercise at your own pace also allows you the chance to talk and network with other Nordic walkers.

Walk Kernow runs in partnership with Age UK but is inclusive to people of all ages, prices start from £30 for initial taster session and workshop, after which a single walk costs £8. For more information, visit their website here or follow Walk Kernow on Facebook.

*additional reporting completed by Alice Webber and Sarah Woodside.

Photo and Video credits: Alice Webber and Sarah Woodside

A 32-foot Cornish Gig Vessel built by a team of injured veterans has been launched in Falmouth.

The Great Big Cornish Gig Project began last June, supported by the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and The Armed Forces Community Covenant Programme. Their aim was to train wounded, injured and sick (WIS) veterans and serving forces personnel in boatbuilding skills and build a gig to compete in the 2016 World Pilot Gig Championships in the Scilly Isles.

Al Henderson

Al Henderson

Al Henderson, a former Royal Marine said: “Part of my resettlement leaving the Marines was to come down here to do the boat building course at the Marine School.” Through that Al met shipwright Brian Cumby (now deceased), who came up with the original idea for building the gig.

Al added: “Mike Selwood ran with it, and got all the funding secured. Then they asked me to come on as one of the boat builders along with Andrew Nancarrow and Dan Scully. All the other guys are volunteers; they have built the boat. They have done ninety-nine percent of the work, we’ve just been there to oversee it and break it down into manageable sections. For me it’s been a really good project.”

It took the team of around 40 volunteers eight months to build the vessel which has been named H4H Valiant. Many had no previous experience. Stevie Allan, a survival instructor currently serving in the army said: “I didn’t have any skills at all, I learned along the way.”

The gig launch

The gig launch

Prior to the launch off the slipway at the Falmouth Watersports Centre a Royal Marines Corps of Drums performed a marching parade with the uninvited support of a small dog. Reverend Botwood performed the ceremonial blessing of the boat and then decanted a bottle of rum over the boat in line with naval traditions.

The team will now tour around the South West coast to Sennen Cove in H4H Valiant between 2-8 April before heading over to the Scilly Isles to compete in the World Pilot Gig Championships later in the month.

The Home Straight



March 16, 2016

There has been a long gap since I last wrote any updates. Without going into too much detail here, I had to break off from this assignment for a while. I have been busy behind the scenes and normal service has been resumed.

The travel feature on Antarctica makes for an unusual holiday, definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is something for the traveller who wants to push boundaries and encounter an extreme travel adventure. As I wanted to use photographs of the aircraft and Union Glacier camp, I sent an email to Leslie Wicks, the Marketing director of Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE). She very kindly sent me the images I wanted to include in my piece and asked that I give credit to the photographer/ALE. It is important to respect copyright laws. It’s not just courteous, it’s the law. I think that my feature would be suitable for publication in Sidetracked Magazine, an adventure travel brand interested in breath-taking adventures, or Wanderlust, who focus on special interest travel to off-the-beaten-track destinations.

The crime feature has evolved into a comment piece as the informal tone was more suitable to convey my own experiences over time. I wanted to draw attention to the whole scale of cyber-crime and include some facts and figures but I didn’t want it to be too dry or dull. I also didn’t want this to be a lecture on how to use the internet, more of an awareness piece. So I focussed on a couple of examples of scamming and hacking using recent media articles for reference and some mind-blowing statistics of the extent and cost of cyber-crime. The targeted publications for this piece would be the Huffington Post Tech Section, which has a more casual style of writing and would be useful for promoting my specialism online. I think the Daily Express Comment Section has a quite relaxed tone while still being informative. A traditional newspaper with an online version will be appropriate for the age demographic I would like to access.