Power Of The Fourth Estate : How Does New Media Coverage On Polarized Criminal Justice?

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Power of the Fourth Estate: How does new media coverage on polarized criminal justice cases influence case verdicts, public opinion and policy in the United States?

The disbursement of accurate information is vital for the sustenance of a healthy democracy. It ensures that its citizens are equipped to make responsible, informed decisions pertaining to matters that affect their daily lives. In the United States, the media is referred to as the fourth estate or fourth branch of government (alongside the legislative, executive and judiciary branches). The media has been used as a conduit to broadcast local, state-level, federal-level and international government and social affairs. It may also be used to endorse campaigns, report misuses of
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The cases chosen were: The Casey Anthony trial, the McCarthy hearings, Megan Kanka’s law, the Central Park Five case and lastly, the Watergate scandal. Each circumstance providing ample evidence of how the media’s role in each instance served a major factor for which altered or contributed to the case’s outcome.

On July 15, 2008 in Orange County, Florida, Cindy Anthony, grandmother of two year old Caylee Marie Anthony called emergency services to report her grandchild as missing. Cindy explained to the 911 dispatcher that she had not seen Caylee in over 30 days. Cindy Anthony also explained to law enforcement officials that her daughter Casey Anthony (mother of Caylee) had given several different explanations as to the toddler’s whereabouts. Upon several interviews with law enforcement, Casey also told detectives that her daughter had been kidnapped by her nanny a month prior, before finally admitting that she had not seen her daughter Caylee in weeks.[1] On July 16th, 2008, Casey was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
The quest for missing Caylee continued as the media was now alerted by the unusual details of the pending trial. Casey Anthony was the target for extreme public inquiry and for her actions following the disappearance of her two year old daughter Caylee. Despite not knowing where her child was, Casey indulged in activities such as getting a tattoo, partying and drinking, all of which was
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