Media Sensationalism

What’s the problem with the splashy headlines and “experienced” legal analysis offered by our 24/7 media news cycle? How is it that Casey Anthony could be acquitted when talking heads and lawyers convicted her in the media?

Bombastic repetition of speculation and suspicion is no substitute for facts and evidence. After initial media reports, I suggest that the bombardment of the public with an unrelenting media campaign failed Caylee. The full-court-press media coverage created unrealistic expectations for jurors that the actual evidence and prosecutors could not match.

Jurors selected after consideration by both parties sit in a room and watch. They observe the attorneys, they carefully consider the witnesses and their testimony. Real people can differentiate between sonorous rhetoric and evidence. If you ask jurors whether a person should lose their life based on a circumstantial case, make sure your evidence is enough to make real people, regular folks comfortable with that choice. Lawyers tend to acquire tunnel vision.

Take it from one of the trial jurors…

One of the jurors in the Anthony case, Elizabeth Ford, told ABC News that the 51-year-old Grace was not fit for television.

“I think a lot of things she says fuel the fire and they’re based on nothing,” Ford said. “I’m obviously against making decisions based on just speculation and opinion.”

The media spectacle will live on after the spotlights shift to the next “criminal.” Casey Anthony is now marked. She will have trouble finding employment. She will be ostracized by family, former friends and the public. Regardless of how you feel about the trial, Casey Anthony may have avoided the death penalty, she did not avoid a life sentence to being a pariah. So, perhaps the media did win.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Media Sensationalism

  1. I love your thinking, Nancee! And your way of expressing it.

  2. Karen Ferrell-White

    Tabloid journalism, which only 20-30 years ago was relegated to the supermarket checkout counters and largely derided and laughed at, has edged into mainstream media, including TV. I refuse to listen to even a second of Nancy Grace’s ranting–which does exactly what the juror noted it does. She and her ilk, like the early iterations of tabloids, catch the attention and belief of minds whose intellectual discipline is not well-honed. This has always been true of such journalism, but the percentage of the population that fits into that last categorization seems to have grown by leaps and bounds. Apparently we aren’t teaching our children how to evaluate what they hear and read in the light of logic and rationality, so bombast and outrage have slid into their place.

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