Trial by Media

14404 Words Mar 22nd, 2011 58 Pages
Chapter I
Introductory
The subject of ‘Trial by Media’ is discussed by civil rights activists, Constitutional lawyers, judges and academics almost every day in recent times. With the coming into being of the television and cable-channels, the amount of publicity which any crime or suspect or accused gets in the media has reached alarming proportions. Innocents may be condemned for no reason or those who are guilty may not get a fair trial or may get a higher sentence after trial than they deserved. There appears to be very little restraint in the media in so far as the administration of criminal justice is concerned.

We are aware that in a democratic country like ours, freedom of expression is an important right but such aright is not
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Zee Telefilms (IA 8185/2003 in Suit No. 1543/2003 dated 24.1.2005) aptly describe the state of affairs of today’s media. He says that journalism and ethics stand apart. While journalists are distinctive facilitators for the democratic process to function without hindrance the media has to follow the virtues of ‘accuracy, honesty, truth, objectivity, fairness, balanced reporting, respect or autonomy of ordinary people’. These are all part of the democratic process. But practical considerations, namely, pursuit of successful career, promotion to be obtained, compulsion of meeting deadlines and satisfying Media Managers by meeting growth targets, are recognized as factors for the ‘temptation to print trivial stories salaciously presented’. In the temptation to sell stories, what is presented is what ‘public is interested in’ rather than ‘what is in public interest’.

Suspects and accused apart, even victims and witnesses suffer from excessive publicity and invasion of their privacy rights. Police are presented in poor light by the media and their morale too suffers. The day after the report of crime is published; media says ‘Police have no cue’. Then, whatever gossip the media gathers about the line of investigation by the official agencies, it gives such publicity in respect of the information that the person who has indeed committed the crime, can move away to safer places. The pressure on the police from media day by day builds up and reaches a stage where police feel

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