April 2nd, 2009

Tuning out

Recently, I had the pleasure of fulfilling my responsibility as a citizen of the United States by heading down to the Kings County Supreme Court building and serving jury duty. Once we were called into the the courtroom, the presiding judge walked us through the selection process as well as the particular trial for which we were being considered. During his introduction he made a comment that I found quite telling.

“And for those of you who are big Law and Order fans, forget that stuff. This is not like that.”

It got a chuckle from a few fellow jurors, but the notion of how media constructs our views on the world didn’t end there. During the voir dire process, the prosecuting attorney asked the selected 16 jurors if any of them enjoyed watching cop shows on TV. Almost everyone rose their hand. He again asserted what the judge had prior: that we should not let our impressions of a courtroom through a television show influence how we act as jurors.

I myself have never seen an episode of Law & Order but recognize its popularity. Once I was called up for consideration, I couldn’t help feel like I was sitting inside an episode of HBO’s The Wire. Was this the wrong thing to do?

We here at the LAMP believe that media are not merely things we can tune in and tune out of and then their influence ends. In fact, we believe that media informs all of our lives, informs how we interact with each other and informs how we look at the world – including a courtroom.

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