The true crime fan in me wrestles constantly with the journalism major, which might be why I stay in the historic end of the cesspool and don't watch much TV these days. Variety was recently among those to decry the sheer volume of true crime stories on television today.
Readers Digest also weighed in with scathing critique of the "craze for cable TV shows that treat true crime as a subject for opinionated argument." In Outrageous! Media's Influence on Jury Trials: For modern pundits, "presumed guilty" has more entertainment value than "presumed innocent", Readers Digest remarks:
In newspapers, on television and radio, and now on the Internet, pundits and politicians treat accusations as truth and make sweeping declarations of guilt-shattering lives without waiting for the legal system. The "presumption-of-guilt culture," Washington attorney Lanny J. Davis calls it. "Accusations and headlines have become surrogates for facts and presumptions of guilt," he says, "to the point where reputations can be ruined beyond repair."
Beyond that, there's also the real concern I have with the influence of the media on juries, which this article also mentions. I've been touchy about that subject lately. I've been checking the website of the Ohio Court of Appeals every day lately, waiting for the appellate court opinion in Father Robinson's case, still disgusted with the grossly unfair, gung-ho press coverage the prosecutor enjoyed in that case. Then again I am a sucker for DNA evidence, even when it points to (gasp! change the channel!) actual innocence.