Tabloid Justice: Criminal Justice in an Age of Media Frenzy

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1016666 Item available
Creators & Publishers
Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc
Part of Stetson Kennedy Library

Fox and Van Sickel document the shift in news coverage style to produce what they call tabloid justice, characterized by several high-profile cases in the 1990s: the O. J. Simpson murder trial, the William Kennedy Smith rape trial, the Rodney King police misconduct trial, the Menendez brothers' murder trial, and the Clinton/Jones/Lewinsky saga. Coverage of these cases illustrates how the informational role of news gathering has been subverted by the entertainment role. A circus atmosphere dominates, and coverage tends to distort public perception of the operations of our legal system. The authors review criteria used by news outlets to determine newsworthiness and how it has changed. They attribute the change to the growth of cable news outlets and a relentless demand for more news. The "commodification" of criminal trials and investigations has increased familiarity with how the justice system works, and it has also corroded faith in the system. Moreover, it has tended to reinforce social cleavages as it sensationalizes the racial, sexual, and economic aspects of these cases.