The case of Amanda Knox, the American college student accused of killing her British roommate while studying overseas in Italy, was major news worldwide over the last four years — from Knox’s arrest to her overturned conviction last week. We asked Alan Schroeder, a professor of journalism in the College of Arts, Media and Design, for his insight on why the case dominated headlines and where the story will go now that Knox is back in America.
What was it about this case that caught the attention of the nation and the world?
It’s a big story in three countries, which is unusual: the United States, Italy and Britain: Amanda Knox is from Seattle, Wash., the victim was from Britain and the trial took place in Italy. You’ve got this international aspect to it. She’s also a young, attractive woman, and we know that makes her a very compelling protagonist for the media. It’s also everybody’s worst nightmare — that you’re traveling in a foreign country and you get caught up in the local criminal justice system.
What will media outlets be looking to do now that Amanda Knox is free and back in the United States?
Unless she has to go back to Italy for a retrial or some other legal proceeding, and that could happen, I don’t think we’ll have a second chapter to this story. I think the interesting thing will be what she does with the story and what she makes of the experience she has had and how — or whether — she will parlay that into some kind of platform for herself.I found it really interesting that she gave a news conference at the airport when she got home because if you were really strategizing about this, you wouldn’t have talked then; you would be withholding your story to increase its value. I didn’t get the feeling that she is already thinking about cashing in or she would not have done that news conference.But I do think there is money to be made if she chooses to go that route. I think a book would be the logical platform for her and I think there would be an appetite for it, perhaps even more so in Britain and Italy, where the story got so much more press coverage than here.
How will major news organizations go about trying to obtain an interview with Knox?
I’m sure that process probably began the minute she was exonerated by the court. Typically, the way that works is that the big names who compete for these interviews — the Anderson Coopers, the Diane Sawyers, the Katie Courics — make personal appeals. Amanda Knox will be hearing directly from Anderson Cooper, directly from Diane Sawyer, not just their producers. In that appeal, they are trying to position their venue as the most advantageous for getting her story out. They’re going to try to figure out her psychology a little bit — why would she want to tell her story right now, why would she want to tell it to me and how can I appeal to her on those grounds?