Friday, October 26, 2007

Media makes its position known about the death penalty

Mark Twain once said that “There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe... the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press”, but over the years the media has become even more powerful than he claims. It has gained an influential place in our society and sublimely manipulates our thoughts and opinions daily on many issues, including the death penalty. Through use of statistics, slander and diction the media has touched the hearts of many Americans and influenced them to believe in the death penalty. The media has succeeding in convincing the public that capital punishment is the only viable solution to the intensive amount of crime in our society. Support for the death penalty is known to have increased over the years mainly because of media reports. Sixty-three percent of the overall population is reported to support the death penalty. According to David Niven research conducted at Florida Atlantic University has proven the influence of mass media on the death penalty by analyzing the affect of various media articles on individuals thoughts about capital punishment. It is unfortunate that the media is trusted so blindly and can persuade the jury’s verdict on cases. This has caused innocent criminals like Joseph O’Dell and Dobie Williams to be put to death. Overall, the media’s portrayal of criminal cases and death row inmate’s through pre-trial narrative argues for the effectiveness of the death penalty, therefore bolstering support for capital punishment.


C. Ronaldo said...

It is amzing how much influence the media has in such cases. Does the media in former slave states still support the death penalty? How mcuh influence did the media play in Dobie Williams and Joseph O'Dells case or was it mainly other factors. I really do think though that something needs to be done to limit the impact the exposure the media has on the jury and judge. I mean judges can use big cases to help promote themselves just by getting more media coverage. Hoepfully the media can do accurate reporting on the cases and trying to give a fair opinion. I am also surprised by the way the media tends to put down people even before they were convicted of the crime.

Jocelyn said...

I think that in the case of Dobie Williams and Joseph O'Dell, media coverage did not play such a big part. The issue in those cases was the skewed justice system that allowed the prosecutors to abuse their power and manipulate the jury.

Media coverage in court cases is a double-edged sword: it can both benefit and harm the defendant. For example, you should look into the case of Debra Lafave; despite being guilty, she was released of all charges because the mother of the boy she raped did not want all the media attention on her family. In this case, the media helped a guilty defendant.

There is no doubt that the media will always have a heavy influence on how the public sees these cases. The issue is that their influence should be used properly.

Akansha said...

I completely agree with the fact that the media plays an enormous role in influencing public opinion about judicial cases. I'm curious to know the details of how the media played into the cases of Dobie Williams and Joseph O'Dell. While media coverage often skews public opinon, I also feel like it plays the crucial role of keeping the public informed about the happenings of the judicial system. I agree with the fact that media coverage should be limited, like in the case of the Memphis Three; however, in the technologically savy world in which we live, limiting the media seems nearly impossible. With numerous news and radio channels, placing such boundaries on the media would prove incredibly difficult. Also, placing such limitations on the media would then bring up the issue of depriving US citizens of one of their fundamental rights: the freedom of expression.

Yeo!!! said...

Hey.. I like your topic. Sounds good so far. How you can improve this post before the deadline is probably to add in a sentence that makes clear your argument and its boundaries. Another thing is that it sounds as if you believe so strongly that the media ALWAYS supports the death penalty. In order not to turn off those readers who do not share your views, you might want to make some changes to the language and tone of your posts to provide some room for discussion. Maybe a question? Also, your comment about Mark Twain ("but over the years the media has become even more powerful than he claims") seems like you have misinterpreted him. The media has not become more powerful, I think Twain knew how powerful it could get. Rather, the media has become more misleading, which was not what Twain said in his comment. Just a thought =) Good Job so far.