Media Essay, Research Paper
The case that I decided to focus on is an older abuse case, but it has recently been
resolved in the courts. It is a child abuse case involving James and Bonnie Zeleski. They
were both charged with abusing their infant daughter. The child was brought to the
hospital with a fracture in each leg, a fracture in each arm, a thigh fracture, three broken
ribs, a ripped esophagus, pneumonia, malnourished and several other cuts and bruises.
The girl was transferred to an Omaha hospital. The father, James, was charged on June
3, 1998 with Class 4 Felony Child Abuse. His wife, Bonnie, was later charged and
convicted of a Class 3 Felony. James was sentenced to three years probation and six
months in jail. His wife was sentenced to 15 to 18 months in prison.
I think that this case was fairly portrayed by the media. I know at the time, there
were several letters to the editor and opinion printed on the subject, but the Grand Island
Independent seemed to be fair and stick to the facts. It was a horrible crime and I think
they did a good job being unbiased. I think that it is a good idea to publicize crimes like
this. From my other studies, I have learned that the informal sanctions, public
humiliation and shame, are far more effective than the formal sanctions in preventing
crime. When people who are having a hard time dealing with being a parent see
something like this in the media, they may stop to think about their actions. A good idea
would be to run several articles on where parents can go to for help. The combination of
the two, may help prevent this from happening to another child.
As a mother I have a definite interest in this crime. I cannot even begin to
understand how anyone could do something like that to someone so helpless. I am also
interested in this case from the legal perspective and how the case was resolved in the
court system. I personally think that the sentencing was very lenient.
I think this is a good activity. I studied journalism for a while and I am very
aware of how the media can distort a situation. I think as a human service worker it is
very important to know what is going on and how the situations are being resolved.
Anytime situations like this can be brought to public attention I think it can help. Just
getting one person to think about their actions possibly save the life of a child.
Grand Island Independent, Wednesday, June 3, 1998
Grand Island Independent, Thursday, June 4, 1998
Grand Island Independent, Saturday, January 9, 1998
Grand Island Independent, Thursday, February 18, 1998