Pistorius Creates S. Africa’s O.J. Moment?

When I read in The Telegraph that the downtown of South Africa’s administrative capital of Pretoria “was brought to a virtual standstill as legions of satellite trucks and emblem-emblazoned radio cars descended on the red-brick courthouse for what was billed as ‘South Africa’s OJ Simpson moment'”   during South African Olympian hero Oscar Pistorius’s court appearance on charges he murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, I cringed.

That Pretoria, the South African judiciary and the world would be subjected to a comparable spectacle is bad enough. But court magistrate Desmond Nair’s indication that cameras would be barred from proceedings, was truly consternating.

Read my book! I wanted to scream. Please read “Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson”! I devoted an entire chapter to cameras, photographers and camera crews that covered the 1995 Simpson trial.  The book also addresses the pros and cons of courtroom-camera coverage.

The crucial point, as I point out in “Anatomy”, is just where exactly the “media circus” is taking place.  A secondary consideration is whether courtroom-camera coverage helps mitigate or actually exacerbates a circus atmosphere — which, as astute observers of courtroom proceedings, both with and without camera coverage, know does not occur inside the courtroom.

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