Media Should Inform the Public on Why, Not Just What, of Criminal Legalities

As we discussed potential procedures following the aftermath of acts causing tension between citizens of the Milwaukee area and police officers, a small group I was part of presented an interesting point. That point was that many times citizens are unaware of the on-goings of the criminal legal system. When situations arise in which officers or citizens are not found guilty subsequent to what seems to be a criminal act, onlookers are furious and the city burns—literally.

The media does little to help reduce the animosity, pointing fingers and creating distrust between residents and law enforcement by informing on the what, but failing to expand on the why. We as law school students are all legally educated, and most of us, at the least, have taken criminal law, even if we are not so knowledgeable as those who teach it. So, when an event takes place that seems unjust and nobody walks away in handcuffs, we understand why. The citizens of Milwaukee, however, don’t have that same knowledge and are understandably outraged.

Marquette opens its doors to the public for events such as the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” series at Eckstein Hall from which the community can gain ample information from knowledgeable speakers, but the majority of the community either does not or cannot attend. How then do we reach the majority of the community? The media.

Animosity between the public and the law is no secret, and events, which fuel the tension further, will never completely cease. The legal community is obligated to share its knowledge with those who have the right to understand why they feel no justice. We must work with the media in order to spread this knowledge, if news organiations will allow it. The media has great power to inform the masses, and with the assistance of legally trained minds, has the power to inform the public of not only the what, but also the why.

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