While I was procrastinating doing my homework this weekend – like writing this blog – I came across the documentary “Amanda Knox” on Netflix. Like Making a Murderer, The Jinx, and Made in America, this true crime documentary is yet another installment in this genre that seems to be captivating our society lately.
A quick background on the Amanda Knox story for those who are not familiar; Knox, a young, attractive American college student, was studying abroad in Italy when her roommate Meridith Kercher was brutally murdered in the house they shared together. The gruesome crime became a secondary story to the media attention that surrounded Knox. Knox and her boyfriend were charged and found guilty of Kercher’s murder; however, they were subsequently acquitted due to a lack of any physical evidence tying the two to the crime.
The power of the media played a significant role in this case. The media manipulated their own narrative as the investigation and trial proceedings were ongoing. The storyline was altered numerous times throughout the ordeal – with the story ranging from a sexual orgy gone awry to a deadly confrontation over noise and cleanliness of the shared living space between Kercher and Knox.
Freelance journalist for the Daily Mail, Nick Pisa, appears throughout the documentary. Pisa was a leading journalist covering the Knox case; Pisa nicknamed Knox, Foxy Knoxy, a nickname that followed Knox around throughout her ordeal. Pisa – and the majority of media – ignored reporting the many holes in the investigation, choosing to stick with the racy narrative of a young American college student brutally murdering her roommate with her boyfriend in a wild sexual encounter gone wrong.
The problem facing the media today is that there is a need to stay relevant in a media landscape that is constantly changing. As mentioned in Trust Me, I’m Lying, Ryan Holiday talks about how generating traffic to your blog is the ultimate goal in establishing yourself within the competitive media-blogging community. Manipulating headlines, spreading rumours, and reporting fabricated stories are just some of the tactics Holiday mentions. Pisa candidly speaks about this when he reflects on seeing his name trending in the media: “to see your name on the front page with a great story that everyone’s talking about – it’s just a fantastic buzz. I’d like to say it’s like having sex or something like that.”
The Amanda Knox story provides insight into the power that the media hold in forming the narrative that we, the public, come to accept as the truth. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of journalists like Pisa and Holiday online, profiting on telling a compelling story over providing the facts.
‘Amanda Knox’ pulls back the curtain on a media circus. (2016, September 29). The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/09/29/us/ap-us-film-amanda-knox-documentary.html?_r=0
Blackhurst, R., McGinn, B., Heide, M., & Morse, S.R. (Producers). (2016). Amanda Knox [Streaming video]. Retrieved from http://www.netflix.com
Holiday, R. (2013). Trust me, I’m lying: Confessions of a media manipulator. London: Portfolio/Penguin.
Netflix US & Canada. (2016, September 19). Amanda Knox/official trailer [HD]/Netflix [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRLt2xBpQbQ