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History Of The Media And The Courts, Tried In The Media, The Crime Of The Century

Criminal trials, by their very nature, are public events. Prosecuting attorneys are public officers of the court, judges are often elected officials, and juries who decide the fate of the accused consist of members of the community. As with all public events of importance, the news media play a major role in relaying information to the public and providing access to events the public otherwise would not have. Despite this vital public service, the rights of the media have sometimes clashed with the rights of those on trial.

Technological advances and the easing of rules regarding televised proceedings have allowed the public to enter the courtroom on a wider scale. This increased access can serve the public interest or create a circus-like atmosphere. Since people have been able to learn more about the benefits and flaws of the criminal justice process, movies, television series, and books that document trials, lawyers, judges, and criminals have soared in popularity.

For More Information


Cohn, Marjorie, and David Dow. Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice. New York: McFarland & Company, 1998.

The Constitution of the United States as Amended. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Cowdery, Nicholas. Getting Justice Wrong: Myths, Media, and Crime. New York: Independent Publishers Group, 2001.

Dunne, Dominick. Justice: Crimes, Trials, and Punishment. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002.

Fox, Richard L. Tabloid Justice: Criminal Justice in an Age of Media Frenzy. New York: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000.

Sloctnick, Elliot E., and Jennifer A. Segal. Television News and the Supreme Court: All the News That's Fit to Air? Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Yalof, David A., and Kenneth Dautrich. The First Amendment and the Media in the Court of Public Opinion. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Web Sites

Court TV.com—The Investigation Channel. http://www.courttv.com/ (accessed on August 20, 2004).

Court TV's Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods. http://www.crime library.com (accessed on August 20, 2004).

Famous Trials Theater. http://www.famoustrials.com/ (accessed on August 20, 2004).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law