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» Arizona Cases, News » Bad Reporting

Bad Reporting

Someone forwarded me this story recently. They thought I would be interested in the topic because I’m involved in related litigation. I was interested. Unfortunately, what I got from it wasn’t just information about what happened in the case, but also concerns about the abysmal quality of the reporting.

“After 6-hour trial, Snowbowl protester still guilty,” the title reads.

It’s amazing the words “still guilty” made it through editing. I assume that the author intended to somehow emphasize that, despite what she perceives to be a lengthy trial, the defendant did not prevail. “Snowbowl protester found guilty after 6-hour trial” probably would’ve conveyed that just fine. It also would’ve avoided the frustrating misconceptions that abound from the title she actually chose.

Her title suggests the poor guy was guilty from the start. It’s like he was presumed guilty, but through some sort of legal magic he was able to suspend his obvious culpability for a moment. Now that the smoke has cleared, everyone can rest assured that he’s still guilty.

It’s as if he hadn’t entered a not guilty plea at his first hearing. It’s as if the state doesn’t bear the burden of proof. It’s as if he wasn’t legally innocent until the very moment the verdict came down. All the trial did, the article seems to suggest, was confirm what everyone thought they knew all along.

Now that I think about it, maybe the author does know a little something about the criminal justice system. That sure makes the article a lot more depressing.

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3 Responses to "Bad Reporting"

  1. […] media here in Arizona always seems eager to shill for authority, something their bad reporting frequently puts on display. The scientist in yesterday’s article was accused of something for […]

  2. shg says:

    Some stuff that appears in the media is obviously, to the attuned reader/watcher, wrong or misguided. To the uninitiated, the nuance flies over their head. It contributes to a general impression, such as the presumption of guilt, but they will neither catch, nor care, about where the headline went wrong.

    If this bothers you, try handling high profile cases, where the reporting not only bears no similarity to reality, but creates entire fictions that are then perpetuated in story after story, and no matter what you say, reporters refuse to correct the error once it becomes part of the myth of the story. It’s enough to make your head explode.

    1. Matt Brown says:

      I doubt I’ll regret it for one second if none of my cases ever makes headlines. I’m irritated enough seeing the news butcher the facts of other lawyers’ cases. I can’t imagine how irritating it would be to see them do it to something near and dear.

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