A Constructed Peace: Narratives of Suture in the News Media

Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2004

34 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2007  

Jody Lynee Madeira

Indiana University Maurer School of Law-Bloomington

Abstract

In the aftermath of violent crime, survivors are confronted by questions of comprehension, healing, normalcy, accountability, and restoration. These same issues are communicated to audiences via mass media coverage of the crime and ensuing legal proceedings that focuses upon survivors while they are in the public eye - and while those suspected of the crime are in the defendant's chair. Such stories bring a human face to the innocents most affected by the outcome of the proceedings, relaying their involvement in and response to legal developments from arrest to execution. This paper examines these chronicles through the lens of narrative theory, practices integral to human communication and memory. It discusses how the mass media makes use of narrative practices in covering crises, events that in effect demand narration. This paper then focuses upon the suturing potential of narrative, its ability to knit together understandings of crises into beginnings, endings, and points in between. This discussion is illustrated by a content analysis of stories covering Dennis and Judy Shepard, whose son Matthew was brutally slain in 1998, from the time of the murder to the prosecution of the killers and beyond.

Keywords: memory, narrative, murder, Shepard, media

Suggested Citation

Madeira, Jody Lynee, A Constructed Peace: Narratives of Suture in the News Media. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1000422

Jody Lynee Madeira (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law-Bloomington ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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