Publication Date

April 2015


Ronald Jenkins




English (United States)


Television has become arguably one of the most important media outlets for our ability to access all types of information; however, America’s growing dependence on television has become controversial as a result of networks’ bias affecting the public’s beliefs. These biased broadcasts are a result of the newscasters reporting what they consider to be a “good” story designed to align with the viewers’ beliefs, that they hope will accomplish three things: please their current viewers, entice new viewers and bring in higher ratings. However this kind of bias can affect the public’s outlooks on topics such as crime, which, in turn, can affect a member of the community forever. Such was the case with Pamela Smart. Pamela Wojas Smart was a twenty-two year old woman living in Derry, New Hampshire who was accused of having an affair with a fifteen-year-old boy and convincing the teenage boy and his friends to kill her husband. The Pamela Smart murder trial was the first to be aired on television and received an inordinate amount of media attention causing her trial to be unjust. Although I do believe Smart was rightly convicted, her trial was unjust as a result of the judge and the jury being exposed to biased pretrial press and the media circus through out the proceedings. In addition, this trial was the foundation upon which all trial publicity since has been laid, resulting in the chaotic media circuses that surround criminal trials today. In examining the dynamics of the media’s impact on the Pamela Smart murder trial, its outcome, and its aftermath, this paper establishes two things: first that the trial was heavily influenced by the negative portrayals of Smart in the media and second that this trial set the precedent for a new kind of over involved relationship between media and criminal trials that overtime became a normal part of today’s courtroom atmosphere.



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