Rethinking Cameras in the Courtroom

Once again, we spent days in judicial suspense as a court in Italy decided the fate of Amanda Knox.

This 24-year-old woman – the target of so much media scrutiny – now has the opportunity to return to a world she departed in private but, because of all the attention, re-enters as a public personality.

The challenge of that return was clearly evident as Amanda heard the ruling. Thanks to the miracle of courtroom cameras, we had front row seats to observe her reaction – instant, almost violent – as the experience, for her, began to end.

Should we have been invited into her private world as she heard the verdict? What if the court had decided the other way? How devastating a reaction would we have observed? Is this news or intrusion? Why should we, the less-than-casual observers, share a moment that, in earlier days, would have been reserved for Amanda, her lawyers, her family and friends?

Thanks to reality television, however, we think we’re invited everywhere, from the bedrooms of housewives of every major city, to the boardrooms of undercover (and disconnected) CEOs, to the dance floors where the once-famous now pretend to dance as stars.

But should the fact that a camera can go just about anywhere give the camera license to go there? Or should we, as communicators, lead a discussion of the importance of discretion, that in our search to communicate the truth, some moments are ultimately private?

Ironically, on some news channels, the story of Amanda Knox was followed by new video footage of a young Princess Diana playing with her two sons. How fitting, on a day where we saw too much of a young woman’s painful journey, to be reminded of the harm media curiosity can ultimately create.

Hopefully, Amanda Knox can return to the quiet of her home to repair the years of disconnection and despair. And, hopefully, the media will let that experience be private. Some things don’t need to be seen to be believed.

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  1. Al in SoCal says:

    Opening the doors to the public normally does not trend towards corruption while closing the doors normally does.

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