Being objective and unbiased are the optimum goals in any trial, especially high-profile criminal ones. However, when the media becomes a participant, these goals are thwarted. As Americans, we may hate to admit it, but we are easily swayed by the media. We readily accept what we see on the news, read in the paper or hear on the radio. We accept what is said as gospel because of who they are. Never underestimate the powers of persuasion by the media for they are immense.
There used to be a time when the media was impartial and reported only the facts. It took no sides and was not obligated to political parties, special interests or administrations. That is no longer true. The media is adept at influencing and swaying public opinion, and will slant what it reports to achieve the desired outcome. The concept of innocent until proven guilty dies with media involvement and the public becomes the media’s unwitting puppets; convicting or acquitting based solely on media reporting and never fully digesting the evidence.
The media can build and control public opinion to a frightening degree. This means that the dispensing of justice is in jeopardy. Depending on the media’s agenda, the innocent may go to prison and the guilty may get a slap on the wrist. And the public will be okay with that because we believe and trust the media. We often read of someone being released from prison after many years because they were wrongly convicted. Usually if you go back and read about the case, you will see the part the media played in bringing about that conviction.
Yes, we have the ability to think for ourselves but do we always do so? How often do we form our opinions based on what someone told us rather than researching the information for ourselves? The media knows this. They count on it. With extensive media coverage, they make it very difficult for the prosecution and jury selection.
Media coverage, especially on high-profile trials, is often an emotionally charged affair and one-sided. Remember the Trayvon Martin case? The media only posted pictures of him when he was young and didn’t tell facts about him that were detrimental. This very biased coverage almost caused a major riot because the media manipulated public opinion to that degree. If you want to see how much the media controls public opinion, look at how it censors what we currently read.