The reference work Media and the American Courts by S L Alexander provides the reader with both the necessary historical perspective to understand the increased media coverage of the court system and access to landmark cases in which additional rights were awarded to the media. The concern over the conflict of the first and sixth amendments has existed since the 1800’s. This conflict has resulted in various cases focused on defining the role of the media has continued to be heard by the court system. This work follows these cases and the impact that each case had on the medias involvement in the court system. This research focuses on enhancing the readers understanding of the evolution of the media and the judicial system.
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The book has many areas that could be considered a strength. In the second chapter Alexander explores the effect that new technologies have had on the judicial system. These technologies include the camera, video recorders and the Internet. These technologies have created additional controversial issues that have yet to be resolved. It is important that these issues be resolved in such a manner that the freedoms of the press and the constitutionally protected right of the accused to a fair trial can occur simultaneously. At the end of this chapter Alexander proposes several solutions that were designed to balance these freedoms and protections.
This work was well researched and well written, however when analyzing the work for weaknesses they were found at the end of the work in the list of organizations and agencies. Because the work is in a printed format it is difficult to keep the list of organizations with the most up to date contact information including the web address. Several of the web addresses were out of date making it harder for interested parties to perform additional research on topics that interested them.
This work would be appropriate for many different individuals. Individuals who are studying diverse topics such as the judicial system or law, media and journalism or political science would benefit from this research. As well as individuals who are interested in gaining a broad spectrum of information about American culture during these cases would profit from this research.
The research allows the reader to understand the evolution of this phenomenon through cultural antecedents, case histories and bibliographical sketches the reader is able to get a through understanding of the evolutionary process that the media and America judicial system have experienced over the last 200 years.
As the media becomes more prevalent in the daily lives of American’s it will play an increasingly larger role in the culture, political process and legal system. It will be important to monitor its expansion and prevent the pursuit of freedom of speech on other constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. Therefore by reading this research it will be possible for readers to realize the increase in the pervasiveness of the media in institutions other then the judicial system.
The writer agrees with the research presented in this work. The role of the media in court cases has been defined through the court cases presented. In order to preserve the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution in the first and sixth amendments the liberties of the media needed to be defined by the court system. Through the definition of the limits of the first amendment it is possible to protect the rights of the accused that are guaranteed by the sixth amendment. Without the added limitations provided through the court system, the rights of the accused will be overwhelmed by the media as they race toward a bigger and better story.
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Alexander, S. L. (2004). Media and the American Courts: A Reference Handbook (Contemporary World Issues). ABC-CLIO.