Media Frenzy Creates Trial by Gossip

Facts get muddled in high-profile cases, writer complains
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2007 8:31 AM CST
This March 2007 file photo released by the McCann family Friday, May 4, 2007, shows then 3-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann. (AP Photo/McCann Family, HO)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The media frenzy over high-profile international cases like those of missing girl Madeleine McCann and murdered student Meredith Kercher makes it nearly impossible for the justice system to function, writes Times of London columnist Magnus Linklater. Neither case, he writes, "has demonstrated the two prerequisites of a just legal process: an unbiased police inquiry and the presentation of untainted evidence in court."

Linklater writes that the two cases demonstrate the polar opposites of the problem. In Italy, the runaway availability of information through the media makes an unbiased trial impossible, while in Portugal, "the so-called code of secrecy has resulted in the deliberate manipulation of evidence," as officials leak deceptive info to journalists in what Linklater calls "character assassination."