I’ve blogged recently that we may reduce the drama in our lives by not watching or listening to the news with its counterfeit drama but only to consume written news. However, the latter could also tone it down a tad.
When someone is accused of a crime, it being a serious or a small wrong, what is news is if the accused admits or rejects (some of) the accusations. The reader’s attention is harmed when drama constructed by the accused or their lawyers is included in the reporting or even the headlines. A denial may be news but not how forceful or colorful the rejection.
Maybe it sells, maybe it intrigues, but it should be below the dignity of serious news outlets. The vlogger world calls using emotions-provoking false titles “clickbaits.” It thoroughly rejects such attempts to get more views via untruth and abuse of time and sentiment. This includes ALL CAPS and fake or poignant headings ending in question and exclamation marks. Am I getting a divorce / married / going to end my life ?!!
Included in the headline could be the number of accusers. That says something. But we don’t need to read how many people agree with a case because that only says something about their sentiments and the degree of organization of their opposition and nothing about the case.
And we also don’t need to all read that “s/he was a monster.” That suspicion is obvious or there would not be a trial coming.
Equally immaterial are the exact words of suspects. So please, no more:
“Sex offender Roman Polanski compares his legal ordeal to Dreyfus affair.” “Sex offender Roman Polanski decries being rejected” suffices.
“Netanyahu accuses Channel 12 owners of ‘terror attack against democracy’.” “Netanyahu rejects Channel 12’s accusations” suffices.
It doesn’t matter if accusations are rejected forcefully, if the accused seems guilty or unsympathetic and if the crimes are extraordinary.
These are the principles that should accompany serious pretrial reporting:
* An accused is presumed innocent until found guilty [in court].
* Accused are entitled to their day in court.
* Not every crime can be proved.
* There are unjust laws and unjust convicted.
* The public has a right to know, not a duty to get upset or help the media.