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Journalistic ethics and media trials

While the Media trial of Rhea Chakraborty goes on in India, I wonder does the media ever apologize for the pain caused?

Only Courts can decide guilt or innocence. After 9 years of trauma and imprisonment, the parents of Aarushi Talwar were acquitted of the crimes of which they were charged. In the West, Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson, and Richard Blake were 'convicted' by the media, but were declared innocent.

I wish there more channels like the NDTV that is probably providing much needed balance in the reporting of the case surrounding the death of actor Sushanth Singh Rajput. However, the death has hooked the attention of the public, and the media and the social media community are milking it for all its worth to them in terms of reach, advertising, marketing, sale and social media interaction.

What you can do if you are put on media trial

Your lawyer should be able to create and execute a comprehensive media strategy that also supports the legal strategy. No lawyer learns empathy, sympathy or human emotions in law school, but an experienced lawyer should be able help put forward your positive human qualities before the media, while amassing evidence and pursuing the legal strategy without losing focus.

Countering media attacks and influence

It is not a good strategy to avoid the media, or to not refute allegations made in the media. It is important to seek protection from unfair attacks on reputation, privacy and family. Your lawyer should be able to seek to restrain media persons from reporting dramatic and sensational - and unverified - news. It is important for social media platforms and media organsations to know that you and your legal team would respond with formal legal actions.

Press Freedoms and Privacy - A strategy

A good strategy might be to have periodic press meets to inform the public and the press, give them an opportunity to ask reasonable questions. Strategy should dictate other public appearances and interviews - not anxiety! As human beings we have an almost overwhelming desire for approval; however, in a media-led attack, it is best not to give in to every desire to put forward your perspective or account. Choose platforms and interviewers who might bring out points in support of your case, and who will be empathetic and fair in their analysis.

Don't trust the media to get it right

For the person going through the trial - approach the media with caution and with careful preparation. Avoid 'commenting' on evidence, issues and persons 'on the fly.' Address the media and the public with 'prepared' statements but do give an opportunity to the curious to ask questions that are reasonable.

This is also for the audience. In a criminal trial, it is best not go by the perspectives that the media is putting forward or the evidence or witnesses that are being paraded. On the other hand, it is probably best to leave the case alone, and pursue your personal hobby or profession!

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