This article acknowledges the shifting landscapes of news production and consumption in the digital era and forms part of ongoing research into online narratives and media-based storytelling. In June 2008 the search term ‘‘Madeleine McCann’’ generated around 3700 videos on YouTube, attracting over seven million text responses. This research project used generic analysis to allocate videos to categories according to their content. Using critical discourse analysis, the nature of the comments posted in response to the videos was then assessed. Both methods were deployed to explore three broad research questions. First, what kind of content were people uploading to YouTube in response to the case? Second, where did YouTube users position themselves in relation to the dominant discourses of the news media in this case? Third, previous work demonstrates evidence of ‘‘collective expressiveness, emotionality, and identity’’ (Greer, 2004) in virtual communities structured around cases of child murder in the United Kingdom: to what extent were these characteristics of imagined community evident in responses to videos? Results demonstrate that YouTube provides a forum for a broad range of responses to the case, both accommodating and expanding on dominant mainstream discourses. Evidence of distinct imagined communities forming around particular responses to the case demonstrate nuanced and complex patterns of responses to mediated crime through YouTube, as technology erodes the traditional boundaries between producers and consumers of crime news. The methodology for this paper offers a novel approach to categorizing user generated responses to mainstream crime stories on YouTube through a carefully structured framework of video genre analysis read against content analysis of text comments. This approach has been adopted as the methodological framework for a chapter by Professor Bob Franklin exploring YouTube responses to the ‘Baby P’ case in forthcoming collection ‘Thatcher’s Grandchildren’, currently in publication

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