What You See is Wht You Get: The Shaping of Public Opinion Through media Portrayals, and Its Effect on the Administering of Justice

Jennifer M. Burzych, Northeastern Illinois University

ABSTRACT
The American justice system is rooted in the premise that everyone deserves the right to a fair trial. What has become quite evident, however, is the justie system's increasing dependence on public opinion, which, as we know, is many times influenced by often inaccurate and incomplete media representations. It is then reasonable to assume that these misguided and misshapen opinions will negatively influence the trial process and inhibit the administering of true and fair justice. By employing Richard Quinney's Social Reality of Crime, I will highlight common portrayals of criminals and will dissect the impact of these portrayals in the media. Furthermore, I will reveal the numerous injustices that reside in our criminal trial process, which directly affects the outcome of high profile cases such as Timothy McVeigh, Theodore Kaczinski, and John Walker Lindh, but also the trials of the "average American criminal."

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Updated 05/20/2006