The Impact of Media Coverage on Criminal Trials

The media plays a significant role in how we perceive crime and justice. From dedicated sections in local newspapers to documentary series on Netflix, the modern media landscape is full of reports on crime. Research has examined the impact of media consumption on fear of crime, punitive attitudes and the perception of police effectiveness. Studies have found that the more crime-related media a person consumes, the more they fear crime.

But what impact does this pre-trial publicity have on jurors? Not surprisingly, research studies have consistently demonstrated that prospective jurors often have extremely negative attitudes toward the accused. In addition to being more likely to believe that the accused is guilty even before the trial begins, they are also more likely to distrust any evidence presented by the defense. As a result, they are much more likely to hand down a guilty verdict or recommend that they not be granted clemency. The media know our criminal preferences and will report more about them.

Glassner (200 years old) describes what he calls the “ideal crime story” that journalists should report. He points out that society likes to read about innocent victims, nice people, and that the perpetrator must be frightening and indifferent to crime. The academic analysis of crime in popular culture and the media has focused on the effects on viewers, on the way in which these stories are presented and on how that can have an impact on our perceptions of crime. How can these images shape our views, attitudes and actions? Using Oxford Research's Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, we looked at how crime is covered in the media and its ramifications.

Research shows that, with the high levels of consumption of television news and newspaper readers, fear of victimization and crime increased. What's more, local news was found to have a more significant impact on fear of crime. At the same time, television networks invested in crime programs. Fox's big hit was the reality show Cops, which mixed news about crime and entertainment. A 1995 study on the ratings of the television program Cops revealed that viewers considered the program to be more realistic than other types of police programs.

Other studies show that viewers view reality shows as information, rather than as entertainment. The public interprets crime-based reality television programming as something similar to news. In the 1960s, a term to describe our society's fascination with violence and crime became popular as a public spectacle called “culture of the wound”.It is this strange attraction to the abject that has been at the center of the American media. As the future of media seeks to increasingly integrate social networks and news information, there are serious issues to consider.

Will algorithms designed to provide us with content that we “like” lead to an even greater consumption of crime news? How will that distort our perception of crime in the United States? Will the illusion of a crime-infested United States affect our politics?The role of lawyers in criminal proceedings is to safeguard the rights and interests of the accused. In their reporting, the media blatantly undermine the presumption of innocence, a right enshrined in the right to a fair trial and which has become a basic legal principle in many judicial systems. The Simpson trial made the role of publicity in criminal cases a topic of debate among social scientists, the media, and criminal justice professionals, and some ethical thresholds were agreed upon. Over time, in search of audience, audience and exclusivity, criminal news began to offer more emotional content and less informational value. The significant focus of the media on high-profile crimes, as well as on social ills related to crime and victimization, has exerted a significant influence, both positive and negative, on policies and programs related to criminal justice, juvenile justice and the rights and services of victims. The Model Criminal Information Disclosure Act and prosecution's model information disclosure guidelines have been developed by a working group of experts from Commonwealth member countries.

These guidelines are designed to ensure that criminal proceedings are conducted fairly while protecting victims' rights. Jury selection in high-profile cases can be extremely difficult due to extensive media coverage. It is likely that members of jury have developed some biases about case based on media coverage they have been exposed to. This media effect is especially important in capital punishment cases where accused faces death penalty as there is much more at stake for accused than normal criminal trials. Public knowledge about crime and justice comes largely from media which makes it even more important for journalists to report responsibly.

Luis Mersinger
Luis Mersinger

Devoted internet enthusiast. Evil internet geek. General pop culture enthusiast. Extreme web specialist. Typical internet aficionado. Alcohol guru.

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