Trial by media

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THERE can be few journalists and columnists who didn’t cringe at some of the media’s coverage of the Stephen Lawrence murder trial; a murder which occurred 19 years ago.

In truth the reporting was reminiscent of the infamous Stalinist show trials.

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I won’t knee jerk by distancing myself from the accused; they are not the issue. What should concern everyone is the malicious accusatory journalism that preceded the trials of these men.

As a journalist I apologise for the excesses of my profession. The British media in particular is loathed. It gave us the derogatory terms ‘tabloid press’ and ‘red top journalism’; both epitomise journalistic sleaze.

Unfortunately, being known by the company one keeps, the actions of an irresponsible minority rub off on the rest.

It is unfair but it comes with the territory. Let it be remembered that for every sanctimonious journalist who sets himself up as Witch-Finder General there are hundreds of caring journalists and media contributors who write with the utmost truthfulness.

For every pontificating tabloid there are hundreds of genuinely independent magazines and newspapers for whom editorial integrity is a by-word.

As I write a video has gone viral; it highlights the ways by which the mainstream media, often fed spin by government departments, prepare their readers’ to accept or even support acts war and conflict by their governments.

For the most part the public is far savvier these days. An interesting side issue is that the mainstream media is losing influence rapidly. Those wishing to keep up with responsible reporting, which is relevant to them, are turning to independent provincial newspapers.

More damaging to household name media and TV broadcasters the more discerning public now draw their information from independent online sources to form a more balanced view.

As an issue this is worrying the mainstream media; both newspapers and television broadcasters. It could be the price they pay for dropping standards. The real travesty of justice concerning the Stephen Lawrence case was not the guilt or otherwise of the defendants; it was the hounding of them by the media.

It has nothing to do with racism; there was no way these men were ever going to get a fair trial, or a fair appeal decision, once the media had the mob baying for their blood.

I predict that in the coming weeks the same media, once the furore has died down and these men are banged up, will be taking a close look at themselves.

That will not make happy reading either. The media whipped up such a frenzied hatred I was again reminded of Maoist China. Those marked as being politically incorrect were marched to their execution with the screams of hatred pouring from the surrounding mobs; who cheered as they met their grisly ends.

I am sorry to say that in witnessing the aftermath of this trial following 19 years of the most intrusive, pernicious and persistent investigations, justice was denied.

Sadly, not only was justice served badly, so was journalism.

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