GUEST BLOG: Gerard Otto – Trial by media


Is trial by media in the court of public opinion the new low standard we all should adopt as our sole source of conviction about the guilt or innocence of anyone accused of a crime?

It is a standard that includes and promotes the prosecution but eliminates all defence.

Any defence might weigh down the flow of the story so it is eliminated by special judges called editors and directors.

Media may also at all times presume guilt based on the case put forward by the prosecution and with no defence allowed – anyone accused has no opportunity to prove their innocence.

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Innocence cannot be proven in this court.

Alleged victims may be reported as actual victims – removing any doubt about the presumption of guilt – as trial by media calls it’s next witness.

Witnesses are usually junior entertainment journalists who watched a documentary and have changed their minds before watching all of it.

No cross examining of witnesses is allowed in the media court except where there is a comments section – where members of the gallery may argue the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Sometimes new information may be introduced to the media court in the comments section ( when there is one ) but this is rarely the case from witnesses( junior journalists)

Old news and the details covered already in exhaustive criminal trials and investigations can be side stepped and presented as brand new shocking allegations and testimony to a public who never did care about the details of pesky real world court judgements.

For example the notion of grooming may be brand new to a TV audience who never read the way grooming was already covered in exhaustive accounts in real world courts – and careful weighing up of testimony as to it’s factual nature is considered in great detail.

Details that just don’t fit with the time limitations of film festivals nor Television programming.

Instead those details sit on the cutting room floor and are swept into the trash in order to make the story flow within the time constraints imposed on the media court.

Despite all of this shredding of a much higher standard – members of the public are themselves groomed to believe a defenceless court.

There is little in depth counter balancing from media – after all they are all about their own ratings and creating a storm of attention.

Doing this as cheaply as possible involves junior opinion writers – giving high level summary accounts of what they felt and thought as they watched the prosecutions case.

If this is the new standard then why do nations bother with a system of courts at all?

Surely all we need is a TV or a computer to sit in judgement as we consume the presumptions of guilt in a court with no defence?

That sounds a bit like every fascist dictatorship ever imagined with it’s propaganda division mind washing the public.

Now we may all be lectured by newly informed TV watchers who have made up their minds based upon this very same type of information filtering.

Armed with half a story – they are now fully convinced.

Burning witches anyone?


Gerard Otto is an activist and a writer.


  1. Lynch mob mentality amplified by the media played significant roll in the blatantly wrongful conviction of Peter Ellis.

    The same applies to other controversial cases too, such as the Hope/Smart disappearance and presumed murder, the Bain family murders, and the Lundy case. In each the defendant was thoroughly smeared before trial.

    • Yes you are quite right all denigrated prior to their trials. Of course at the same we have a ‘well known businessman’ in court for sexual molestation, and his name is suppressed. Personally I think all of these names should be open for people to know or none of them. If you are brown and poor you are never going to get name suppression.

  2. Social media has given people the illusion that they have more power over the world than they really have

  3. Trail by media is a fact, so is propaganda spreading, i wonder what ever happened to fact checking and balanced reporting, cant be fashionable anymore

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