OJ and trial by media

John Ford (John.Ford@JCU.EDU.AU)
Tue, 12 Jul 1994 08:17:26 +1000

Some thoughts from down under.
We get the Tv coverage of the trial. Why us? The globalization of
American values perhaps.

But we too have are celebraty type court cases. The "Backpacker Murders"
is a recxent case in point.

Whilst the debate has been interesting I think something is missing.
Trial by media is not in my view about justice. The q. I keep asking
myself is; who edits the transcript. Not the transcript of the trial, but
the video cut that goes to air. Who controls that knowledge? To whom is
that knowledge directed, and why?

Some where, I forget the ref. the police in Britain were cited as
'responding' to the public's demand for a quick response to the Birmingham
bombings and for those 'responsible' to be
arrested. Hence the now famous'Birmingham Four" trials and subsequent
findings and release. But the interesting point is the fact that someone
thinks that the police were responding to the public's outrage and fear
following the bombings. Someone had to be arrested - it did not really
matter who.

Are the police so acting in the more recent past?

And a further point - With the instant and wide spread coverage of these
caeses, can anyone now claim to receive a 'fair' trial. OJ has not, as
far as I know, been found guilty of anything, yet we in Oz receive the
latest TV that indicates that he is. Perhaps it is not so much trial by
media as trial by piublic opinion. Lets have a vote on it? Personally I
find this mdeia hype rathering nauseating.

My oewn view? I think such trials are an extension of the 'soapies'. They
are 'real live drama" - there is no make believe about what is happening to
OJ. Life becomes entertainment. The division between fiction and reality
fades. The result is that we can often no longer tell the difference.
This blurring of the division between reality and fiction is, I think,
played upon by both the prosecution and defence. We. that is us public.
may never know what happened because of something called 'the rules of
evidence'. A lot of evidence is not allowed to be admitted because of
certain restriction. This has little to do with a 'fair' trail, but a
lot to do with something called 'justice'. There is a chasm separating
those two notions.

In effect we get two edited versions. One at the trail, the other in its
reporting. From this we can take a vote? Vote me out.