Does the Media make our minds up ?
This is a post that I put together late last year in one of my first attempts at writing a blog. I was happy with the articles but the blog never really worked and the enviable happened and the project and blog was abandoned. I however feel this article is worth a reposting and so here it is I have updated some material and added a new forward to make it relevant to todays issues.
Last Friday Australia was rocked by the news that Andy Muirhead had been charged with accessing child pornography. The news was instantly ceased upon and spread by social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, it appeared that everybody had an opinion on his guilt or innocence. This is a very tricky prospect as of course we want an open and accountable justice system; however every one has the right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law, yes the charges against Andy are serious but really that’s all we know and to speculate would not only be unfair on him, but an undermining of the justice system . I however suspect that many in the media and no doubt the wider community have already made their minds up, which brings me to this post.
Does having been wrong about an issue/event in the past make you sceptical of forming or maintaining strong views about current issues?
I know that although I research my facts a lot more these days, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the internet for the ease of what we can now do, what used to take days, even weeks at the library in many cases can now be researched in mere hours, not that research alone can guarantee the validity any story these days, as I am sure that the people who purchased the “ Hitler Diaries “ can attest.
But still with the Internet and the monumental expansion in easily accessible news must surely make it easier to come to an informed and balanced opinion that takes into account all of the facts and weighs all the pros and cons. Well no! not really because If the way I feel is any indication then I don’t think so.
I remember back to the days of the Azaria Chamberlain disappearance of June 11th 1980 in Mount Isa Queensland, this event obviously happened before the advent of the internet, and as I recall resulted in media frenzy (we would call it a circus these days). Was it possible for a dingo to even take a baby? Could a mother murder her own child? Was anybody else involved?
It appears that everybody had an opinion, and lead by the media, (The findings of the first inquest were broadcast live on television) people sat back and passionately discussed/argued whether Lindy Chamberlain had indeed murdered her own daughter.
Lindy was eventually found guilty and convicted of the murder of Azaria, latter on she was exonerated of all charges and is today a free woman, but the questions still remain and I suspect that the truth of what actually happened that fateful day back in 1980 will never really be known.
Now to my point, I was a very strong believer that Lindy Chamberlain was guilty, I don’t know what lead me to this belief, was it gut, did the media persuade me, did others that I respected at the time persuade me, I don’t know, or as often heard in the court room chambers around the world “I can’t recall “. But the point is, that in my mind she was guilty and after extensive research into the concept of “hard labour” I was satisfied that the punishment fitted the crime, case over lets move on.
Well here we are 29 years on from that fateful day and I can tell you that I think I was wrong, It does not really matter either way because my determination had or will have no bearing on that case.
But what of the future? I live in a democratic country that respects law and order, and as such I may one day be called to perform jury duty, to make judgment on the innocence or guilt of some else. Obviously in this scenario I would be afforded all the evidence presented by the defence and prosecution and I along with 11 others of my peers would weigh all of that evidence and come to an informed and balanced opinion that takes into account all of the facts, evidence and weighs all the pros and cons to come to a conclusion as to the innocence or guilt of the defendant.
But, can I truly do that knowing that I have been wrong before and that the consequences of getting this wrong could destroy the life of an innocent person.
I always have been a big believer that it is better that a guilty man go free than an innocent man be goaled for a crime they did not commit.
What do think, does the reporting of sensational news in the media alter your perception and make ascertaining the truth that much harder.