The voice of lived experience: mobile video narratives in the courtroom

Academic Article


  • Video is overtaking other modes of communication in new media. Whether from a smartphone, a wearable device or surveillance camera, video is being made, stored and shared in unprecedented ways. Once the exclusive territory of institutions becomes large enough to finance video production and its storytelling power, technology’s contemporary democratization is changing the landscape of visual narrative. This project explores the discursive nature of video based on a case study of a courtroom trial that was both about the legality of filming crime scenes and the evidentiary use of videos from crime scenes. This unique intersection of surveillance, counter-surveillance, word and image, body and text allows for deeper understanding of how video serves human purposes. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and textual analysis, we build upon Walter Fisher’s narrative paradigm by identifying significant attributes of unedited, evidentiary video that distinguish it from other forms of visual documentation. Raw video’s hard-edged timeline presents narrative coherence in a way that resists discursive contextualization. This has important implications for public policy and citizen-generated video evidence.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bock MA; Schneider DA
  • Start Page

  • 335
  • End Page

  • 350
  • Volume

  • 20
  • Issue

  • 3