What makes a trial high profile? Why do so many people become obsessed with some trials and not others? Among the obvious answers can include celebrity, money, glamour, sex, racial issues, unusual and/or heinous aspects of the crime, and others.
All of that and more has been the topics of many court-media conferences and workshops I’ve attended and participated in and court-media courses and workshops I’ve conducted.
It occurred to me as I watched episode 3 of the FX dramatization of the 1995 Simpson trial that almost never are the victims in a case the reason a trial becomes one of great media interest. With rare exception, those who lost their lives or suffered because of the crimes the defendants are charged with committing become invisible in media coverage of trials.
Why is that, I wondered. My thought is it’s because the victims are not why large numbers of people are captivated by or even particularly interested in trials — and the media know that.
So what the media deliver is what they do know will result in high TV ratings and print circulation and that is sensationalism, whether generated by celebrity, or whatever.
To their credit, the Goldman and Brown families have crusaded to keep Ronald and Nicole in the public eye and consciousness. The families a many crime victims, despite tireless efforts, have not been as successful.