From Malcolm X to “Free Britney,” new media shape the justice system

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True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings – and are often influencing the outcome.

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why it matters: New media platforms can quickly grab national headlines on matters that have been long forgotten or buried under red tape.

Running news: The two men convicted of the murder of civil rights activist Malcolm X were called “Who Killed Malcolm X?” last week. A series titled One was acquitted soon after. Aired on Netflix.

  • The chain drew new attention to the case, which was first opened nearly 60 years ago.

Britney Spears It was finally freed from its patronage after 13 years, following a massive #FreeBritney movement that rocked social media and became popular through a The New York Times documentary that aired on Hulu in February. was given.

  • movie, The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears, According to Google Trends, ‘Free Britney’ led to an all-time high in searches.

on social mediaReal-world cases have become fodder for wider social justice movements, often led by celebrities with millions of followers.

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Julius Jones Was clemency granted Last week, hours before he was hanged for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) commuted Jones’ death sentence to a life sentence in prison.

  • The decision was taken after weeks of intense pressure from Kim Kardashian and other celebrities. Kardashian posted Stitt’s email address to her Instagram hours before the decision, urging her 264 million followers to write to the governor about the matter.
  • In the past week, there were 279k social media posts about Jones’ case, which generated up to 1.4 billion impressions, according to data from Keyhole.

yes but: These public projects do not always lead to legal consequences.

  • “serial” Podcast Series Millions of listeners questioned whether Adnan Syed had been wrongfully convicted of murder, but ultimately the courts denied him a new test,
  • Critics Called the Netflix Series “Making a Murderer” key evidence left, A former police officer who worked on the case has Netflix sued for defamation.
  • and a new documentary, “Phantom” Investigates holes in 1989 Texas execution case Carlos Deluna For the 1983 murder where the police may have confused two Hispanic men. DeLuna is already dead and the Texas execution is showing no signs of ending.

Flashback: Documentary films have greatly helped shape criminal cases even before the streaming era. Errol Morris’s film “The Thin Blue Line” helped Exonerating the rights Its main theme.

big picture: Social media, primarily Instagram, has become the focus of information and advocacy messages.

  • The Black Lives MattR The movement, which grew in the wake of George Floyd’s death and ensuing protests during the summer of 2020, helped enter a new level Social media lobbying.
  • During the trial of the man who killed Floyd, former police officer Derek Chauvin, the intensity of the movement increased over the summer. He was found guilty.

what to watch: There has already been a huge uproar on social media over Kyle Rittenhouse’s not guilty verdict on Friday.


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