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graham - KEYNOTE ADDRESS THE IMPACT OF TELEVISION ON THE...

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KEYNOTE ADDRESS: THE IMPACT OF TELEVISION ON THE JURY SYSTEM: ANCIENT MYTHS AND MODERN REALISM FRED GRAHAM* MR. MINOW: I have known Fred Graham since we were both in the government in the 1960s, but I think we really all know him as the Supreme Court correspondent for many years for the New York Times and later the law correspondent for CBS News. He has won every award there is to win in broadcasting. He has written four books. He is a lawyer and a first class journalist. I am very pleased to present Fred Graham to you. MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Minow, thank you very much and thanks to all of you for the opportunity to be here on this occasion where you are discussing a subject that is obviously of great interest to me-that is, the influence of the media and specifically television on events, on people, and on our legal system. What I have realized more and more over the years is not only that television affects people's perceptions, but also that it affects them in ways that the rest of us would not predict, and in ways that would surprise us. In fact, to an increasing degree the effect of tele- vision on the American public is changing. This was raised by Ron Olson in the last session when he asked Beth Loftus if there really is a difference between the impact of television on jurors and the im- pact of other media. He asked her if there have been empirical stud- ies and empirical evidence on the subject.' She never had an opportunity to answer. I asked her the same question a minute ago, and I think the answer is that probably there have not been studies on the subject. My own experience over the last few years has persuaded me that not only is it very difficult to * Chief Anchor and Managing Editor, The American Trial Network 1. See Selecting ImpartialJuries: Must Ignorance Be a Virtue in Our Search for Justice, Panel Two: CurrentJudicial Practice, Legal Issues and Existing Remedies, Annenberg Washington Program Conference, May 11, 1990, 40 AM. U.L. REv. 573, 579-80 (1990).
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THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 40:623 measure the impact of television, but that the impact is changing because of an odd interrelationship between television, changing technology, and the public's changing expectations of and demands on the media. This dynamic has a ratcheting effect and creates tre- mendous change both in our media, television, and in the way the public perceives television and reacts to it, which may be even more crucial to the subject before us. In my judgment, we lawyers have a professional blind spot with regard to how television impacts on public perceptions. This is a result of the legal method in which we were all trained; a method that relies on a principle of law that is developed, usually by a court, and then that principle is applied by analysis and analogy to like situations. That method has a fundamental flaw when the principle at issue is how the public will react to a certain exposure to the me- dia. That method does not take into consideration the fact that peo- ple perceiving the media see it in a differenc way today
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