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Order in the Court, but Not on Television

September 23, 2003

Re "Jurors Overrule the Media's Hype," Commentary, Sept. 18: Scratch the surface of Catherine Crier's reassurances about juror independence in the face of media hype and you'll uncover Court TV's ongoing strategy for promoting its product: the use of misdirection to chip away at objections to cameras in the courtroom. Crier's subtle conflation of "press" and "media" buries a valid distinction between print media stories and live TV coverage of trials: The former report events, the latter presents performances. Crier's focus on generally outlandish journalistic behavior shrugs off the differentially seductive impact the broadcast media presence can have on all participants in a proceeding. That these unique, powerful effects warrant special caution and restraint can be readily gleaned by analogy: How many "reality shows" have done so well on television that they're being retooled into newspaper spectacles?

Mike Hanson

Burbank

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