Increasingly, the news is not just news. Journalism is purportedly a truth-exposing field, and by all means it is. Of course the news informs the public of what we wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and provides an array of perspectives in an effort to isolate the truth. But, scanning the front page of CNN, it’s obvious that that’s not all it is. There is no way to be entirely impartial whenever an audience is involved, and a demanding one at that. The news, though informative, has no way of isolating pure communication of truth from selling their stories.
Articles like, “Burned Gadafi Nanny Making Progress“, “Mom Admits to Beating Baby to Death!“, and titling videos about the Casey Anthony case, “The Best Liar I’ve Ever Seen!” may be telling the truth, but are bordering on sensationalist appeal. In a society when our primary source for unbiased information relies so heavily on empathy, it’s no surprise that jury decisions in criminal trials are also easily swayed by emotional appeal.
Bright and Goodman-Delahunty discuss the impact of gruesome visual evidence on experimental participants and how this significantly impacts juror decisions.The integration of photographic evidence in general was shown to increase conviction rate, but the demonstration of gruesome visuals elicited more feelings of anger towards the defendant. A lawyer’s job is to do whatever in his or her power to convince the judge or the jury of his argument, and emotions are entirely understandable. However, when jurors begin to feel anger towards the defendant, it’s move beyond empathy to more of a personal involvement. Though, this may not be conscious,
The United States law system is comparatively to the rest of the world, one that is fair. So fair that it allows a jury, a symbolic representation of the people to decide its cases. However, perhaps it is time to admit that people are not fair. There are far too many conflicting feelings within humans that build upon guilt, revenge, and empathy to result in a proper decision. This by no means demonstrates that the jury system should be abolished, but rather that allowance of emotion-eliciting materials in the courtroom may need to be minimized.
On the other hand, that the elimination of emotional impact takes out the humanity of the courtroom, resulting in only, for example, neuro-imaging or mental disorder categorizations. Would this get rid of the need for any human involvement altogether? What are the repercussions of that? While it should not be dependent entirely on emotional impact, a law trial also should not be a demonstration of one correct answer. Multiple perspectives must be taken into account.