Curiosity killed the M-Cat: an examination of illicit drugs and media

Kari Lancaster, Caitlin Hughes, Bridget Spicer, Francis Matthew-Simmons, Paul Dillon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Using mainstream media communication theories, this article outlines different mechanisms by which media can impact on public perceptions of drugs and crime. The media can set the agenda and define public interest; frame issues through selection and salience; indirectly shape individual and community attitudes towards risk and norms; and feed into political debate and decision making. We demonstrate how the media can fulfill each of these roles by examining the so-called Miaow Miaow (Mephedrone) legal high ‘epidemic’, as reported in the United Kingdom news media from 2009-2010. In doing so we illustrate that by contributing to hysteria, exerting pressure for policy change and increasing curiosity in drug use, the media can have a potentially powerful impact on demand for drugs and public perceptions of illicit drugs and drugs policy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2010 Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherInstitute of Criminology, Sydney University Faculty of Law
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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