The term “trial of the media,” which has been popular over the past two decades to characterize the influence of television and print media coverage in the case of an assassination attempt, is similar to asserting that whoever controls the media in some way or another controls the mind. Even before his trial, the media declared the accused guilty, regardless of the court’s decision. The premise that an accused person has a right to a fair trial and is assumed innocent unless proven guilty forms the basis of criminal law (Intravia et al., 2017). The media go a long way in covering and publishing witness and victim family interviews and legal board member remarks through exclusive media coverage, which might harm the trial, especially in the eyes of judges (Baranauskas, & Drakulich, 2018). Because the media quickly appeals to the masses, it influences how the general public perceives it.
The media’s impact in getting justice in various situations involving corruption, sexual assault, murder, sexual harassment, terrorist activities, and more has grown significantly over the past ten years. Fairness to the victims might sway the trial’s outcome, harming the accused and his chance to prove his innocence. Regardless of the court’s decision, litigation in the media refers to the effect of newspaper and television coverage on a person’s reputation by spreading a sense of guilt.
In today’s society, media independence is equated with a people’s right to freedom. Furthermore, it is not essential to repeat that every person has a right to media access to be informed about all matters impacting him. All of this leads one to believe that the media nowadays is such a potent force that it can influence and mold public opinion (Bucy & Evans, 2021; Gavin, 2018). The media ignores the central tenet of the trial: that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and innocent until proven guilty.
The media ends up disparaging and defaming mere suspects and declaring them guilty in front of courts in order to draw in more viewers. The media may cause much harm almost entirely disregarded by the media by stressing unilateral delegation and following the conventional route of inciting public indignation without striving to uncover facts. The media significantly influence the nation’s population.
Newspapers, news channels, radio, and television disseminate information and aid in regulating the tales that the general public can subsequently discuss. It is challenging for prosecutors and attorneys to do their jobs since crimes are publicly reported. The human being is the center of the universe for both the court and the media, and they perform complementary roles in society (Pickett, 2019; Stringer & Murphy, 2020). The judiciary deals with legal issues it has created while the media looks into, learns about, and exposes human progress and follies.
The judiciary and the media have the same objectives: to ascertain the truth, defend democratic principles, and address social, political, and economic issues. The media has been referred to be the judiciary, the dispenser of justice, the watchdog of society, the handmaiden of justice, and the force behind social reforms (Jennings et al., 2020). As a result, both are crucial for the development of civil society. These two cornerstones of democracy can clash in any case.
The media assert the right to look into, reveal, expose, and report on criminal matters as part of their fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. He said that in a democracy, everyone has a right to information. As a result, it is the responsibility of the media to notify the public about the offender and the crime. Consequently, it calls for the ability to engage in pre-trial publicity (Mason et al., 2018). On the other hand, the judiciary is nonetheless fully aware of the accused’s fundamental rights to a fair trial and due process. The judge must compromise between conflicting fundamental rights since pre-trial publicity might thwart a fair and efficient trial.
One of the foundations of democracy is the media. It performs a variety of social functions. The media are highly influential in influencing public opinion and can completely alter how people view particular events (Mastrorocco & Minale, 2018). They should be congratulated for establishing a pattern in which the general public actively participates in finding the accused (Media influence on laws and government, 2016). One of the most significant and valued rights guaranteed by democratic nations’ constitutions is the freedom of speech and expression. Without the freedom of the press, freedom of speech—which includes the right to receive and disseminate information—becomes a meaningless ideal. This freedom is not unrestricted and is subject to acceptable restrictions on libel and contempt of court. Only in the interests of the state’s sovereignty and integrity, the security of society, and good relations with other nations may this right be legally restricted.
The foundation of democracy across the world is the media. They perform various societal functions, influencing perceptions of various events and public opinion. Recently, the media have contributed to the prosecution of the accused (Philippe & Ouss, 2018). Free and healthy media is essential to the operation or functioning of democracy because it informs the people on important topics. The courts close out litigations, which are heavily reported in the media. In essence, litigation is a procedure that the courts must follow. Of course, media judgment is illegal interference with the administration of justice.
Because they have the power to influence public opinion and disseminate information from a variety of sources, the media has a significant impact on society worldwide. Similar rules apply to the media in English courts (Fielding, 2022). According to Article 6 of the Human Rights Law, founded on UN standards, the judiciary must ensure that the trial is handled fairly and that all parties’ rights are respected (Human rights act, 1998). The US Supreme Court has stated that there is a risk that the media might harm legal proceedings. In the landmark case of Dr. Samuel H. Sheppard, the court held that his lack of publicity prevented him from receiving a fair trial (Supreme Court of United States, Sheppard v. Maxwell, 1966). Similar to this, even if it is said that the judiciary is superior to human frailty, media litigation impacts judges in the United Kingdom, England, in Attorney General v. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Any legal system must ensure that the accused receives a fair trial. Everyone is compelled to learn more about dramatic and well-publicized incidents regardless of their traits. People are starting to gather knowledge for themselves to do business mentally. In this process, the media satisfies the public’s need for knowledge about sensational instances by presenting their views of the facts in the sources of newspapers, news websites, and news channels. Investigative journalism is permitted in most democracies, including the US and the UK. Through media litigation or media litigation, the strength of influence and the revolutionization of the public in shaping views against the guilty or innocent mind is understood. The media trial is not only a legal matter but also risky and harmful to society.
Supreme Court of United States, 1966. Sheppard v. Maxwell,
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