Murder Case

Here in Britain there is an investigation going on into the tragic murder of Joanna Yeates whose body was discovered on Christmas day. The coverage of the grief of the woman’s parents and boyfriend has been extremely moving. It goes without saying that the whole country offers deepest sympathy to the bereaved.

The media storm around this case has been amazing. Firstly there was the coverage of the arrest on suspicion of murder of Joanna Yeates’s 65-year-old landlord Chris Jefferies. He’s since been released on bail. The Enemies of Reason blog summarises the coverage as follows:

“His photograph has appeared on the front page of national newspapers 11 times. He was described as “weird”, “lewd”, “strange”, “creepy”, “angry”, “odd”, “disturbing”, “eccentric”, “a loner” and “unusual” in the course of just one article. That the former English teacher should have liked the classic Oscar Wilde poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol wasdescribed by one article as “Chris Jefferies’ favourite poem was about killing wife”. That the teacher should have taught pupils about the horror of the Holocaust and a classic novel by Wilkie Collins was described as him being “obsessed with death”.

It seemed that reporters had forgotten that, at this point, they were talking about an innocent man. None of us knows who is responsible for the murder until someone is tried and found guilty. I found it scary how people seemed to want to drag a person through the mud because he looked a bit different to the way most people look, came from a different background than most people and had different interests to most people. Are we really still so keen to do that in this country?

The other incredible development was Avon and Somerset Police excluding Independent Television News from a press conference. I haven’t quite figured out whether this was related to the coverage of Chris Jeffries’s arrest or whether it was because ITN had been generally critical of the Police investigation. How frightening the thought that police might be able to bar certain journalists from press conferences if they don’t like the way the case is being reported. If the exclusion was anything to do with the dodgy coverage of Mr Jeffries’s arrest then the police should also bear some of the blame because they chose to arrest him on suspicion of murder instead of using the usual ‘helping us with inquiries’ line. Did they do this to help satisfy the need to show the slavering media hounds that they were making progress? If so, they sort of deserved a critical assessment from ITN didn’t they?

What’s worrying is the possibility that 1. the papers can put your whole life on the front page and strongly imply that you are a murderer BEFORE you’ve been tried; 2. if you look and act different to the norm you’ll get torn to shreds; 3. police can exclude journalists from press conferences if they critically assess an investigation; 4. police are so keen to satiate the media that they jump on the first suspect and arrest him or her on suspicion of murder!

What do you think?

ORIGINAL PHOTO BY MATT CARDY, no copyright infringement intended.

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Murder Case

  1. Trial by media is always an ugly business and getting worse. When certain newspapers and their undercover tactics are the way we hear about politician’s expenses or FIFA bribery, no wonder the editors begin to feel they are untouchable. And worse, no wonder they take on the mantle of pursuing truth and justice when the courts are perceived (by these same biased media outlets) to be failing in their duty. And some people think there’s no concern if Murdoch gets more power! I’m crawling back under my stone now before anyone prints about my favourite contemporary author being a homosexual deviant with an unhealthy obsession with the macabre.

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  2. Hi Steven and welcome. How reassuring to hear that I’m not the only one who feels this way. When I wrote the above blog entry opinion seemed to be going very much against Mr Jeffries. In the past 24 hours there’s been a bit of a turnaround with coverage of him being unfairly treated and his intention to take libel action. To me, the poor bloke looked scared to death! A quiet, ‘unusual’ (so what?!) man caught up in a whirlwind of media and police madness.

    Honoured to have you reading the blog Mr H.

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  3. I think it’s so difficult for anone to remain entirely unbiased when there is so much media bombarding us with opinion. Not just the press and TV but social media adds to the weight of it all too. If this guy is guilty then it ought to be up to the police and the courts to do their job and prove his guilt. The newspapers used to be in the business of reporting things that have happened rather than widly speculating. Makes me yearn for simpler times that I’ve never actually experienced in my own lifetime 😀
    Anyways, good to read your take on this. Hopefully plenty other folks out there are capable of making up their own minds too.

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