View Full Version : Media feeding frenzy.
25th Aug 2002, 07:20
It appears that at least a few people are beginning to express concern at the latest media feeding frenzy. The parents who have more that once expressed their wish to be allowed to gieve in peace. The headmaster of the local school, the Public prosocuter and now the police are expressing their doubts about the possibility of being able to conduct an unpredjudiced trial. It has been a sad event that appears to have been hijacked by the media and turned into a tragic circus. When will it stop. Or is there some deepseated need to use this sad event as a form of emotional purgative for the public at large and administered by the media.
25th Aug 2002, 08:55
Since it was pretty obvious this was going to happen, right from the beginning, why didn't they do something about it?!
Err... dunno what though :(
25th Aug 2002, 09:12
I feel that the Media intruded too deeply into personal grief. Look at the way when there is a disaster of any type they are zooming in on the crying relatives and asking banal questions of them when people want to left alone to mourn. One of the worst examples was when Princess Grace of Monaco died and they had close ups of a grief striken Prince Ranier at the funeral.
In this particular case I too think that the Media stepped over the line. The families and the people of Soham should be left alone as they have grief enough to come again when the trial of those arrested takes place.
I agree with Paterbrat's postulate. There is a theory of the "Tragic Catharsis" in drama.
25th Aug 2002, 10:14
I wonder why this wasn't mentioned by anyone before.
Perhaps because a fair number of the born-again critics were glued to their boxes while the whole murder mystery was being played out -- and now that it's all over bar the shouting, they'd like to pretend that they were never part of the whole distasteful business.
The only feeding frenzy has come from the audience which wants to be fed. It's a little like blaming the zoo-keeper for handing out fish to the penguins.
While I firmly believe that the media should not breach Contempt of Court legislation in order to ensure a fair trial, I have to add that, in my opinion, the majority of the news coverage of this event has been conducted with a high level of respect -- especially given the sensitivity of the issue. I suppose some of the armchair experts here would know better. Funny how it's okay to be an armchair expert on journalism, but not on flying an aircraft...
No, I don't agree with intruding on grief. Neither does any journalist of any repute -- this aspect is clearly laid down in the code of conduct drawn up by the journalist associations themselves.
25th Aug 2002, 11:59
One aspect of the media frenzy which disturbs me is the affect it
has on other children.My grandson who is nine has become to
frightened to go out alone.I know you have to be careful and protect children, but why can we not have a newpaper headline
saying millions of children play every day and live to tell the tale.
25th Aug 2002, 13:52
KC a badly trained and sloppy Pilot could potentally kill many people both SLF and on the ground. A sloppy journo, of which there are many might in the worst case kill one person who commits suicide owing to their writing about them.
25th Aug 2002, 15:31
I don't disagree TG.
But what would happen to the reputation of pilots if any Tom, Dick or Harry was allowed to fly passengers on a commercial aircraft?
That reputation for safety and discipline wouldn't last a month. It wouldn't matter how good a pilot you were. You'd be lumped in with the rest of the crowd by those who think they know better.
That's exactly what has happened to journalism. Thanks to the Internet and desktop publishing, it's become easy for any idiot to set themself up as a journalist. To the detriment of the genuinely-skilled, highly-trained individuals who constantly have to fend off crude and naive generalisations about "the media".
I forget who it was that stated that the irony of the communications age is that it's given credibility to uninformed opinion, but he/she was absolutely bang on.
People don't die with biased journalism. But the truth does. And people easily forget how much their version of the truth is shaped by the skill (or lack of skill) of a journalist.
It's nonsense to start comparing the jobs of a journalist and pilot. They are completely different. Yes, a crap pilot might kill 200 passengers. And a crap journalist might have left President Nixon in office. Can you say which would have had the greater consequences? I can't.
Journalism is job that requires taking on a huge responsibility. The fact that a fair number are appallingly bad at it doesn't change the fact. It simply means that -- as with 'professional' pilots who risk lives by turning up drunk -- the shoddy journalists should be fired in order not to bring the rest of their colleagues and their profession into disrepute.
Help those of us from the otherside of the pond that haven't been listiening to the news much this week. What are we talking about?
25th Aug 2002, 16:22
Arthur dear fellow,
Here's a business proposition for you. Set up a newspaper which only reports good news (like the fact that millions of kids play safely every day).
Hire the best journalists in the world, with the specific instructions that they only report similar feel-good stories.
Since the public is always criticising the media for sensationalist headlines and dwelling on bad news, this new paper of yours ought to be a runaway success.
We'll see how long it lasts.
My prediction is that it will be an expensive exercise which will simply teach you that it's the public which dictates what appears on the front page. It's the public which wants ghastly headlines and shock-value stories.
Want proof? Which PPRuNe topics get posted and read most often? The ones talking about jolly things, or the ones about job losses and accidents?
People want to read about the things which might affect their own lives. If you have kids, which paper are you more likely to pick up -- the one with a full report on how safely a million kids are playing today, or the one which is going to tell you about the paedophile who quietly moved into your town last week?
25th Aug 2002, 16:35
If you have ever read a report in a newspaper of an event that you were actually involved in, you will probably have been amazed at how little resemblance it bore to what actually happened.
I have no reason to suppose that any of the other reports in the papers are any more accurate.
Result ? I don't buy or read newspapers.
25th Aug 2002, 19:22
Wino, has that news REALLY not got to the USA?
If so, briefly and without any bias on my part the story is as follows:-
A few weeks ago two girls of about 11 were at a barbecue in a quiet town called Soham in Cambridgshire in the East of England. They wandered off together and failed to return after a few hours, the Police were called, a huge search took place over many days availing nothing. The school caretaker and his girlfriend were questioned by the Police and have now been charged in connection with the murder of the two girls who were found dead near the USAF Base at Lakenheath , Suffolk about 15 miles from their home. Both are now in custody, the man in Rampton, a secure State Mental Asylum, the woman in Holloway(Womens') Prison in London awaiting trial.
The issue under debate herein is that the way the Media, both printed and electronic , publicised and covered this matter was sensationalist and both intruded on private grief (that of the parents of the two girls) and whipped up strong feelings against the accused especially amongst the local populace resulting in angry protests outside the Police Station in which they were being held.
I hope that is sufficient to inform you what this discussion is about in the specific, there are other underlying and longer term issues as well here in the UK which this latest tragic event has re-ignited.
For more detailed information and background I suggest the BBC or ITN News Websites or those of the British Quality Newspapers, The Times, Daily Telegraph, and their Sunday equivalents.
25th Aug 2002, 19:28
I tend to find that the rumours put about on PPRuNe similarly bear little resemblance to the truth. Doesn't stop me reading it though. :D
I think I'd argue that it was the murder of two 10-year old girls that prompted the baying mob outside of the courthouse rather than any reporting by the journalists, particularly since the information on the couple arrested was being released directly to the press from the major incident centre of Cambridgeshire Police, rather than being obtained by "intrusive" means.
25th Aug 2002, 19:43
How are they going to find a jury who have not heard of these two people?
25th Aug 2002, 19:50
Everyone had heard of OJ Simpson and he was found not guilty.
Jury members are not allowed to serve if they know the accused personally. But there's no rule against "knowing" them via news reports.
I'm sure that if you were serving on the jury, you'd be quite offended if anyone suggested you couldn't make your own mind up over the evidence. I'm pretty certain that any one of you would vehemently claim to be able to dismiss any media reports and listen to a case in an unbiased fashion.
And if you can claim to be able to think for yourself, surely it's a bit rich to assume you're the only one?
25th Aug 2002, 20:50
KC, I was merely outlining the background to this discussion for the benefit of Wino. I feel that the angry scenes outside the Police Station were an outpouring of people's grief, anger ,disgust and outrage. Whether the Press and TV added to this or merely reported the facts is the subject of debate.
You already know my views about the flaws in the Jury system and why I would not wish to serve on one. (See JB passim). This is a case which I feel ought to be tried by three senior judges without a jury.
25th Aug 2002, 21:48
I'd support your idea TG. If we're to do away with the traditional jury -- particularly for complex trials -- then an all-judge panel would be an ideal way to proceed.
25th Aug 2002, 21:56
KC re your remark why had no-one mentioned it before, it has been mentioned before. I have certainly commented on it before. It reminds me of the grief fest that was whipped up over Dianna. To some she was nothing less than a Goddess/ Saint/ Icon/ Fairytale Princess all rolled into one; to others she was simply a manipulative, reasonably pretty, fairly emotionaly and psychologicaly unstable young mother who had a very good idea of how to use the press to her advantage. But when she died it was treated as though the world had come to a stop. The emotional overindulgence was quite breathtaking and continues to this day, she in fact competes quite handily with Elvis. The press the TV the journos all love it, it is a rich vein to be drawn upon.
I do not consider myself a totaly cold and unemotional person, and am quite capapable of being moved to joy or grief but there comes a point where it become a self feeding travesty. The OJ trial was indeed another of these media events that seems to have been totaly blown out of all reasonable proportion. The media will see what they feel to be a good thing fasten onto it with bulldog persistance and milk it for all it is worth. And if it is sensational enough and can be fanned from a small fire into a huge forest fire it will sell copy. Selling copy is what papers are all about. Selling copy and manipulating peoples opinions because that is power. Quite literaly influencing large blocks of people.The way in which events can be used like this becomes extremely distasteful
25th Aug 2002, 22:56
Still banging on about juries are we Tartan?
We will never convince you, I am sure, but it has to be said that the jury system is the cornerstone of the citizen's protection against the might of the state. And even the most dreadful criminal is entitled to that protection.
Hard cases make bad law. Always have done, always will.
25th Aug 2002, 23:36
Hello again U_R , still havent met up to buy you that pint.
Anyway, you are correct, I havent changed on the subject of the Jury System Lottery. Ironically, this is one case where TG the great scourge of the criminal, the Prosecutor's Friend at Court so to speak actually feels that the accused would get a fairer trial by three skilled Senior Judges without a jury. Now as you are a JP yourself you are used to that system in dealing less serious types of crime. I feel that the three Judges, having by definition a Lawyer's mindset, would not be influenced by any advance publicity and sensationalism and would therefore apply their judgement in a more objective manner.
25th Aug 2002, 23:44
So, Tartan, how would you deal with Lord Denning's declared preference for police evidence? We have lots of other judges we can give as examples. So long as we hang someone, justice is served? What do you think of my idea of a lottery: crime gets committed, ignore the rules of evidence altogether, get ERNIE (if he still exists in the UK) to select a name at random by computer? Hang whoever has the name selected. He will be innocent, but you don't care about that. Time saved. Money saved.
Nope it didn't really make the news, I think I remember a couple of short blurbs about it, but in the last couple of weeks the news in the USA (atleast in the NY area) has been dominated by the"Amber Alert" system out west.
I will talk about it because it happens to dovetail nicely with this thread.
The Amber ALert system was created in California after the abduction of a little girl named Amber. Vowing never to have another missing girl go unfound, the electonic highway signs and radio stations were gathered on a cooridinated effort to find lost children whenever there was a kidnapping, transmitting details of the car being sought, a discription of the kidnap victim etc.
There have been 3 stunning cases in the last couple of weeks. IN California, 2 girls were abducted at gunpoint from a lover's lane spot, were raped and were about to be murded when a forest ranger spotted the van because of information from the Amber Alert system. In Texas a woman was carjacked with her baby still in the car. 120 miles away the cops were alerted by a cellphone tip and they got the guy and returned the baby to mama in acouple of hours. And then in California again, a 10 year old girl was abducted from a house by a highschool buddy of the father. The girl was rescued in Nevada.
The focus on that is leading NY state to adopt the system as well. Would it have helped the two people in question on this thread? COuldn't have hurt.
26th Aug 2002, 01:23
I'm sure that if you were serving on the jury, you'd be quite offended if anyone suggested you couldn't make your own mind up over the evidence.
Quite the opposite. The point being that determined 'knowledge' about the case could be deeply prejudicial to either the prosecution or defences arguments. Indeed many cases revolving around media firestorms insist on selecting jurors with no prior knowledge. Personally I would walk away, not be offended.
26th Aug 2002, 06:18
Wino, that sounds like a first class idea. In this case one of the girls had a mobile phone (cell phone) and the Police called it several times even sent a message to the person detaining the kids but to no avail. Also the absence of sufficient mobile phone masts and base stations in that area, (its the countryside not the city or conurbations), prevented then getting a triangulation on the polling signals from the phone which may have helped them locate the girls, a good case for increasing the number of masts whatever the nimbys may feel about it.
Chaffers, im not in the slightest bit offended. I know that were I to be on a jury my judgement would be influenced by prior knowledge, what I had read and seen on the media, and my own inate bias towards the Police and Prosecution. I have posted about this repeatedly. Now I realise this, many people would not, but would still be swayed by such matters and make their decisions with this even subconsciously in mind as well as the evidence presented to them. I contend that the ordinary man or woman in the street does not have this mind-shift of a trained lawyer, (Solicitor, Barrister, or Judge), and cannot put their thoughts into separate compartments.
Frankly, I doubt if the two accused in this case will be able to get a trial free of previous bias owing to the publicity given and the high feelings that this case and the Sarah case last year have engendered in matters involving this type of hideous crime. For that reason I feel that on this occasion three judges should try the case without a Jury. Three being chosen to counteract the possible Judicial Bias that Davaar is concerned about.
26th Aug 2002, 08:01
To drag this thread back to its original comment, about media intrusion.
This particular media circus reminds me strongly of the shootings in Dunblane (where my kids were at school at the time). The media behaved totally outrageously, to the extent of sending their usual studio interviewers/reporters to the scene. Where they could obviously do nothing but interview grieving folks.
Now we see a similar thing, no lesson has been learnt, intrusion on private (or what should be) grief.
If only the media would leave these people alone now. Shows over.
26th Aug 2002, 08:26
Yes Take 3, the one saving grace is that as events move on and when some more topical and controversial matter comes to the attention of the Media they will drop this case and let the parents and the people of Soham mourn and grieve in peace, while they publicise and even senationalise that event instead.
There are plenty of other such cases. Look at the reaction to the Potters Bar rail crash. I wish that the Press and TV/Radio would simply report the facts in an unsensational manner and without opinion, (like ar*eholes we all have one), and leave it the reader or viewer/listener to make their own judgement. Likewise grief is a private matter and deceny demands that people should be left to mourn in private unless they actually invite publicity or, like Princess Diana or the Queen Mother, the figure was in the Public Domain already.
26th Aug 2002, 11:26
Is it possible that any trial in this case will be moved to the Old Bailey, possibly to aid getting an unbiased jury?
Although police are suggesting that the girl, Carr/Capp could be charged with more serious offences later, at the moment she is charged with perverting the cause of justice by giving her boyfriend a false alibi and claiming she was with him. It has been claimed that she wasn't in Shoham at the time of the abductions/killings but was visiting her parents and grand parents and was also seen by several friends well away from Shoham.
26th Aug 2002, 14:26
"Is it possible that any trial in this case will be moved to the Old Bailey, possibly to aid getting an unbiased jury?"
It will, if it proceeds, very likely be sent there anyway. I fear that sending it to the Outer Hebrides or even Outer Mongolia will not avoid the jury prejudice problem.
For those with strong stomachs: how about this editorial comment from today's Sun?
THE people of Soham need peace.
The idea that a coach party of ghouls has invaded the town is sickening. What kind of people can treat such a terrible tragedy as a peepshow?
They should be ashamed.
Motes and beams anyone?
May I borrow your bucket for a moment pleae, Claude?
26th Aug 2002, 14:31
Wino I did hear about the girls and the 'alert' system sounded an excellent idea that obviously does have some relevance and probably would make sense here as well. They sounded pretty with it young ladies and it was great to hear that they had been rescued.
TG the idea does have some merits however any time judge is mentioned I do get a mental flashback to one called "Pickles' I think, who produced some truley bizarre judgements, proving that even High Court judges can be somewhat suspect. The system definitely is not perfect, and I have always been rather in agreement with your flog em and hang em high sentiments. I do believe in both deterrance and capital punishment but also in the inherant checks and ballances in the present sytem for all it's imperfections.
The media only does what it believes it can get away with, and is constantly pushing at the boundries. This does not make it right, or any more palatable. The fact that people generaly have a morbid fascination for the bloody, violent and sexualy titalating does not make them inherantly bad, simply confirms that many of us have bad taste. The press makes money and accrues power and influence by pandering to this.
27th Aug 2002, 00:41
I agree with Graingers comment, having been 'reported on' i.e interviewed and also attended events which have been reported, to find that the report bears no or little relevance to what occurred!. The comment regarding the Potters Bar rail accident brings to mind two examples where the BBC, (who should get it right to follow KC's arguement), got it wrong. The animation of the accident was completely wrong, following their animation the cab of the train should have been facing east when it came to rest, when in reality it was facing west. The animation was run several times over the week following with no correction. A recent second animation of the North Sea S76 accident showed the tail rotor being a problem, whereas it was one of the main rotors which was, this was from information taken from an official published report, so if they can't read whats written in front of them, theres little hope. One thing I do have in common with Grainger, is I don't bother buying a daily paper, you can't believe them, full stop.
I'm sure KC there are good journalists out there, but finding one is like trying to nail custard to the ceiling!
27th Aug 2002, 08:12
I have seen how the press has reacted to several incidents in which I have been invloved. They lied to get information, they got it wrong, they called families who were unaware of the situation, they made it up. TV, tabloids and even the so-called quality broadsheets. Don't believe a damn thing you see or hear unless it is happening in front of you.
27th Aug 2002, 09:28
Getting back to the original subject, has anyone here actually been to Soham and seen the press camped outside the parents' houses or going around bothering everyone in the town? Or are we making unfounded assumptions and not checking facts (a bit hypocritical given the lambasting of the press).
I've not personally seen any evidence (that's not to say there isn't any). But I understand that the Soham vicar has actually praised the press for complying with a request to withdraw from the place, and that it's the invasion of ghoulish murder-mystery tourists which is the main insult.
Anyone here prepared to back up their accusations with first-hand facts, or are we to carry on with the fashionable and rather hypocritical media-lashing while simultaneously committing the same offence of jumping to conclusions and spreading unfounded malicious gossip?
27th Aug 2002, 11:15
A needle sharp observation, nature following profile obviously K.
So it's hypocritical to accuse the media of having had a field day on this event? Fashionable as well. Hmmm moving with the 'It' crowd now, this is rather heady stuff.
No regretfully? no evidence was collected. It would have filled the house had that been attempted. The hours and hours of airtime were self evident and constant. Perhaps if one had been in a very secluded spot, a monastry , retreat, isolated cave, it might have been possible to miss it. But then of course you may well have been in such a fortunate situation.
Ahh but then one must be carefull, it might be simply gossip and malicious rumour that the media behaved in this way, they would never do such a thing. First hand facts. Now lets see two weeks worth of daily newspapers from all the various publishers..., errr no K just take it as idle gossip then. It's called Ppruning.