Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Future of Journalism: Casey Anthony Case Study

Originally posted at

Written by Nikky Raney

Casey Anthony is the most hated person in America and the way the news media covered her trial as well as her life in general didn't help the people in our society think highly of her. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC and the rest of the televised news media tried to be objective by interviewing prosecuting attorneys as well as defense attorneys, but the look on the faces of those reporting and the tones in their voice showed that they had an opinion and the opinion was not favorable.

The print media was not much better where the blogs were overtaking the online news sites and the papers and magazines didn't paint her in a favorable light either, and Newsweek even did an article after the fact that suggested that she could be placed in the same category as OJ Simpson as someone who got away with murder. There was also an article in Newsweek titled Did Casey Anthony Get Away With Murder? With a title like that it's hard to not have a biased opinion.

Is the reason that so many people hate her due to the media coverage that was done of her? Probably. Very few people it seems actually went out and did their research, but even those that have done the research (like myself) don't have favorable opinions of her.

The media let it be known that the 22-year-old got a tattoo reading "Bella Vita" meaning Beautiful Life, and by getting that while her daughter was missing it makes it a bit confusing as to why she thought her life was beautiful if her daughter was missing and probably dead. As the aforementioned article stated:

"Thirty-one beautiful days of parties, new boyfriends, and 'hot body' contests. Thirty-one beautiful days without her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie."

That paints a picture already that makes the reader feel an unfavorable way towards Anthony. So what was bad about it?

Clearly it was bad that every single person that reported about it basically thought she was guilty.There was nothing being reported that would suggest that she didn't do it. There was not any occasion where I watched, read or listened to a news source that didn't hint toward Anthony deserving a guilty verdict. Hell, once the verdict was reached that she was proven not guilty of anything other than four counts of lying to police the news media was outraged and once jury members began to be contacted and spoke out saying that "not guilty doesn't mean innocent."

ABC News online posted a piece called Casey Anthony Juror: Jury Sick to Stomach Over Not Guilty Verdict. Within that article included the interviews with jurors:

"'I did not say she was innocent,' said Ford, who had previously only been identified as juror No. 3. 'I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.' "

And by using phrases such as "surprising guilty verdict" like so many sources did, it just shows so much bias, but what did the news media do that was good?

The news media interviewed people who could give both sides - sort of. There were more interviews done with people who thought that she was guilty and of the interviews with people who didn't believe she was guilty a majority of them were with men who said she was "attractive." There was even speculation that the reason she got off was due to her looks and her gender, and maybe even the color of her skin.

What could have been done better would be to get more interviews from both sides and using less adjectives that would suggest that the verdict should have been guilty. Less emotion from the anchors that were covering the stories and basically people needing to be more objective and just putting the facts out there no matter how difficult that actually is.

In the future we as media representatives should try to keep our own personal opinions out of it and try to make sure that we can keep a straight face when there's a camera put in our faces or when there is someone reading our articles, unless of course it is a column or an editorial.