Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Degree Level





Sparks Cummings, Shaughan


Along with the recent mainstream popularity of true crime entertainment, the genre has been increasingly criticized for ethical violations. Interestingly, the centuries-long history of true crime and the moral debates around it has led to an abundance of literature on the subject with little to no consensus. The mere existence of true crime entertainment can even be considered controversial in some cases. For those who produce and market true crime content, a lack of common guidelines means receiving a wide range of feedback. This dichotomy of both backlash and praise being published about the same works reveals a gap in accepted practices. The gap highlights the need for more research into the moral dilemmas of true crime and a common framework to help guide ethical decision-making in the production of the genre. To address the lack of established ethical marketing norms in the space, I will recommend the use of a normative marketing framework after reviewing the literature surrounding the topic.

Prior to stating the recommendation, I will first define true crime entertainment in accordance with Punnett’s Toward a Theory of True Crime Narratives for this paper. After narrowing the literature, I will review relevant articles that discuss ethical quandaries and praise qualifying works. The diverse perspectives included in the literature review dissect reporting styles, legal interactions, and exploitation. After discussing the findings from the literature review, I will close the paper with the recommended guidelines. The objective of this paper is to add to the literature on the ethicality of true crime and recommend a framework I believe has the potential to apply widely to the genre’s marketing and production.


Marketing, Ethics, True Crime, Integrative Social Contacts Theory