Law Vs Media Essay, Research Paper
Law Vs MediaOn July 4, 1967, a law entitled “Freedom of Information Act,” was passed. This law states that the public has the right to all federal records dealing with almost any subject (excluding those matter’s in reference to national security). The act has been used time and time again in court to reveal such information as JFK’s murder and “the UFO conspiracy.” However, this act was not formed solely to exploit the government’s records, but also for the public’s rights granted in the 6th Amendment. This bill states that a person has the right to a speedy trial, trial by one’s peers, and the ability to cross examine his/her accuser(s). Therefore, in the case of journalists receiving information by “anonymous sources,” these sources must be put on trial. However, by using “shield laws,” the informants can remain anonymous. This in effect deems part of the 6th Amendment null. However, as stated, the loss of shield laws will result in a form a censorship. This brings up the point of which is more important: the law or the media?To answer the question, you can not look in the Bill of Rights, since the 1st and 6th Amendments would act against one-another. Therefore, a judgment about “shield laws” must be made. The decision must be broad to avoid later inconsistency. Since everything in our country is based around what you can and cannot do, a resolution favoring the legislative side should be in order. Granted that the media has a right to a story, they do not need to know more of the situation (and it’s outcome) than the courts. To take a current look at this situation, note the O.J. Simpson trial. Not a day goes by without hearing that someone has found an “anonymous source” to either testify that the ex-football player is guilty or innocent. Due to “shield laws,” none of these people will be identified unless they go to court. Recently, the presiding judge ruled to have all media equipment removed from his court in order to get a “fair” trial. Again, due to the saturation of the media with his trial and of its supporting cast of “anonymous sources,” there is absolutely no way for Simpson to get a fair trial. And, once again, by using “shield laws,” most of these sources will not be identified, since the only way to be analyzed is in court, where many of the “sources” would just be committing perjury.
The sweeping decision to be made about “shield laws” must deem the act unconstitutional. The media has become omnipresent and all-encompassing. It is seen everywhere: from the proverbial news paper to the under-construction information super-highway. In some regards, the media has become too large for any good. It dictates our lives from what cologne (or perfume) we wear, to what the idealistic person is supposed to be. By deciding “shield laws” unconstitutional, and making the use of gag-orders more prevalent, the media will lose some of its ability to make conclusions for us. There will be no hung-jury in the case of Law Vs Media.