Sunday, September 7, 2008

By: Shauna Agan

One of the major headlines in the media is about missing 3 year old Caylee Anthony. Although she has been missing since July, issues surrounding this case still make front pages and national news.

With all the media interest and allegations that the mother, Casey Anthony, was the person who killed her daughter, it brings a flashback to another high-profile case a decade ago. In many ways this case can be compared to JonBenet Ramsey’s murder in 1996.

In this particular case, the media went in search of evidence when the police wouldn’t give them what they wanted. From the beginning it was assumed that the parents, John and Patsy Ramsey were guilty of killing their daughter. Suggestive allegations like the parents would rather talk to the media rather than the police, there was indeed to footprints leading to the house and no forced entry, and that the Ramseys sexually assaulted their daughter drew in readers and boosted ratings for the media networks.

After a long, grueling investigation, both John and Patsy Ramsey were proven innocent. So, the question raised was did the media embellish facts and take things too far? I mean after all, there were many inaccuracies in the media reports and also because of headlines, the parents were wrongfully accused. To this day, I couldn’t remember if they were proven guilty or innocent until I conducted a Google search on the case. The media left a lasting impression on me that they were guilty when in fact they were innocent.

The media is now showing suggestive headlines about how Caylee Anthony’s mother, Casey is the murderer in this murder mystery. Sound familiar?

The media has a duty to report the facts and portray important stories to the public in a true fashion. Suggesting evidence and pointing fingers at suspects is not part of their job descriptions. It misleads the audience. Although the suspect might actually turn out to be guilty, in our democracy, people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but the media sometimes jumps the gun straight to a guilty verdict creating a bandwagon for the public to join.

I believe it should be said who suspects are, but suggestive wording and misleading stories should not be used. The way things are now, suspects might as well wear a giant ‘M’ on their shirts for ‘murderer’ just as Hester wore an ‘A’ for ‘adulterer’ in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter”.


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