Presumption of Innocence

In U.S. law, for example, an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, he can sometimes be found guilty in the court of public opinion when the media over-reports the story. Reporters are torn between the theoretical need to be accurate and accountable and the need to appeal to their audience. Some critics accuse the media of presenting news as entertainment, especially about crimes.

Sometimes called trial by media, it results in the public getting facts and innuendo about the case before the actual trial begins. In some cases this can taint the jury pool because most everyone in the locale has comes across print, broadcast or internet reporting about the crime. Potential jurors develop opinions about guilt or innocence and are therefore ineligible to listen to the court case. Coming up with a balance for both the ethical and legal issues is difficult, especially when there is strong demand among readers and listeners for a steady stream of information about a popular case.

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