Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Televised Trials

After reading chapter six, The Age of Show Business I find myself wondering more about televised trials. On page 94 Postman wrote, "In New Bedford, Massachusetts, a rape trial was televised, to the delight of audiences who could barely tell the difference between the trial and their favorite mid-day soap opera." Do these televised events only give more attention and media publicity to those who are undeserving of it? What is your opinion of televised trials?  


  1. I think there is a lot of variation in televised trials.

    I think news organizations try to cover trials that will have an effect on the citizens in a certain society, and in that manner the audience will care and learn necessary information about the happenings. I find shows like Judge Judy and others much more like what would be confused with soap operas. This television seems just like other reality shows that don't have any real repercussion for viewers other than pure entertainment.

    I think that televised trials, for example Casey Anthony's or Lindsay Lohan's, often make people talk or have a reaction toward something that they aren't even really informed about. Although it offers a way for people to hear this news and see detailed developments I think that it is often unnecessary for a trial to be completely televised for the public to watch and comment on.

    I think television could be used in more socially significant ways than covering trials, and it seems to just cause a lot of trouble and useless speculation about cases. I think sometimes people would want a trial televised for the fame, when what they're really getting is infamy.

  2. Courtroom television shows like Judge Judy and People's Court are the "original" reality television shows. Back before reality television was even really a thing, before people ate cockroaches for money and dated aging rock stars so they could be famous. This isn't an attempt to justify them as quality programming, because it's still daytime television crap that my grandfather kept on so the dog wouldn't develop abandonment issues. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Courtroom television was in anyway a detriment to our society as today's reality based programs.

    Non "reality" cases that spark massive public interest, like the Casey Anthony trial that Melanie mentioned above, are examples of real life cases that I believe should never make their way onto national television. These cases are small, isolated incidents that take air time away from actual news.

    Actual news like Supreme Court cases and Senate Floor hearings. Unlike Judge Judy and Casey Anthony, cases like the recent ones regarding same sex marriage, abortion, and immigration (at both state and federal levels) actually effect the course of our civilization.

  3. The issue of giving too much media attention to undeserving individuals brings us into a new discussion. After the tragic Newtown shooting, many people began complaining about the amount of news coverage that was dedicated to the shooter. Some people even claim that the media turns these criminals into heroes that future criminals attempt to imitate. These are some heavy words. For the most part I agree that the media does dedicate too much time to discussing and (of course) showing us images of the criminals behind mass tragedies. However, I do not know if I can put all the blame on the media. Instead, some blame should go to us, the viewers. The primary obligation of the news is to get viewers to watch their programs, so if doing stories on criminals is what gets the viewers attention, then we should take responsibility and not give the news our attention when they air programs about criminals. It's strange how much we are interested in the darker aspects of humanity...but that's a entire different issue.

  4. I think televised trials takes away from the seriousness of the issue being tried. Just like Postman wrote, there are few serious issues on Television which makes trials kind of seem like a joke. I think they are also completely irrelevant to our lives. Who cares about someone's divorce happening it Utah? People are nosy, so televised trials are successful. I have watched them before, and some judges throw jokes in there, trying to make it entertaining for the audience. Since when are trials about entertainment? I think there should be a definite line drawn between law and entertainment.

  5. Well, I agree with Travis. Shows that have been created like Judge Judy or Judge Brown showcasing ignorant individuals fighting over trivial arguments. It goes into a deeper question of what purpose is TV anymore? If we are just meant to entertain the masses, then having these complete morons show up in a "courtroom" trying to argue over their "unfortunate" situation is comical garbage; it's just there to show the flaws of others relatable to Funniest Home Videos, in their worst aspect.

    Now televising something more serious, where not only ethics are brought into question, but human rights, violence, and the emotion of a true victim is quite different. How these producers live with themselves? It's blatantly disrespectful to think dramatizing such a heinous act will be okay. Forget ratings. If anything, things like this diminish the morality of our society. It's not having dumb comedy or crude comedy that makes us dumb; it's displaying things like rape as trivial. It's weighting things that should be taken seriously, that should be respectfully treated as a way to make more money. It's not entertainment; it's sick.

  6. This was one of the few topics from Postman that I completely was on board with. I think that televised trials do nothing good for the case, or our culture for that matter. The best example of this I can think of is the Casey Anthony trial from a few years ago. Televising the trial turned it into a drama for everyone to watch unfold. It was absurd. Before too long, people with no connection, no vested interest at all, were taking sides. The very topic seemed to be an easy way to start an argument that typically went nowhere at all.

    Soon, because of the drama, the focus was taken away from the trial, and someone found innocent by a court of law was receiving death threats. I'm sorry, but if a court finds a person innocent, others should respect that decision. Televising the trial turned Casey Anthony into a character, rather than a person, that others felt free to demonize and threaten.

  7. I like John's comment on the person becoming a character rather than a human being. I notice that as the trial proceeds, it becomes polarizing on a national or even worldwide scale. Some agree with the proceedings, some don't. Even worse, people grant themselves the privilege of dictating what is right and wrong based on their "
    knowledge" or what I consider their extensive research on b.s. I detach myself from these trials, seeing as how I'd rather talk about the new mergers in businesses and how it effects local and national economies. I honestly could care less how much of Casey Anthony's bra was showing during the trial.

  8. I do not think trials should be televised. I also don't think the media should spread every single little detail about the latest mass murderer or whoever. It's the publicity that these people want, so why are we rewarding their bad behavior? If these crazies didn't get so much publicity including showing their trial on tv, then I feel like there would be fewer issues with people like them. Yes, I know they're mentally unstable, but I'm convinced that the media is what is edging them on. They see these other guys on TV for shooting up schools or putting bombs in places, so they think "oh, I can be just as famous as that guy. I'm going to one up him."
    This is the entire reason I don't watch the news. If something is important enough, I'll hear about it. But I don't want to know the names or anything about those terrible people who shot up the school, or the movie theater, or the college. You're just fueling the fire, so stop giving them attention!
    Okay, sorry, rant over.