In just one day your whole life could change. You could be sat at home drinking tea one moment and then the next there’s a knock at your door and a policeman is waiting to take you to the station for questioning. What could make this worse? Well in the case of Cliff Richard it would be the media hearing about this event before it had even happened. It feels like every week or so there is a new name added to the list of celebrities supposedly involved in historic allegations of abuse. What strikes me as odd in this situation however is how the media knew about this possible arrest before Cliff Richard even knew he had been accused!
The media is a very powerful tool for conveying facts but regardless of hard truths just one article can change your perspective on a particular circumstance in a matter of minutes. Just by reading this very article your perspective could change ever so slightly without you even realising! With this in mind media companies, particularly the larger conglomerates, must constantly assess their attitudes and actions when the stories they report could have the power to either build up or completely destroy a person’s reputation.
…regardless of truth just one article can change your perspective in minutes…
The point here is not to defend those who have been found guilty of any kind of abuse. Instead it’s important not to allow reports of allegations to influence our opinion until the final verdict has been given. It has been clear in the past few months just how much of an impact media can have whether it’s the widespread Ice Bucket Nominations leading to a vast increase in awareness of ALS or the destruction of the reputation of William Roache or Michael Le Vell, both Coronation Street actors accused of rape and later cleared of such charges in a court of law. With this amount of influence comes great responsibility but the responsibility held should always take into consideration the lives of the people they are reporting. To face such accusations of abuse can be harrowing in itself whether true or untrue but to go through such challenges knowing that a report will be published for the public to view. This media circus can have dramatic repercussions no matter what the outcome of an investigation winds up being.
Would it be better for the media to steer clear of such court cases until a final verdict has been reached? If the media adhered strictly to the laws put in place to avoid defamation there would be no need to prevent the media from reporting on a case from the very beginning. Yet it is clear from the likes of Roach and Le Vell that the moment an accusation is made against a person the public perception is altered whether the media is objective or not. The one small solace that these victims of exploitative coverage can take is that the accused remain legally innocent until there is enough proof to dispute such regardless of uninformed witch-hunting.
Header image; Brian Turner