A notorious female criminal captures the public's attention. She is discussed over tea and coffee, and is the subject of editorials and letters in the local press. The serious nature of criminal behavior shocks and – for better or worse – simultaneously fascinates and entertains. As psychologist Jack Katz has suggested, consumption of crime-related media acts as a “ritual moral exercise” in which people work out their own moral issues vicariously. From this phenomenological perspective, news reports of crime become sites in public life where the moral meaning of crime and punishment is created, consumed, and recreated.
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