LETTER: Those charged are innocent until proven guilty
To the editor:
Legally in the U.S., one is "innocent until proven guilty." But we all know that it is really just the opposite. In actuality, once a person has been charged with a crime and media sources choose to include it in their publications, that person is perceived as guilty and is thus convicted in the eyes of the public. The "scandal seekers" love it and a "feeding frenzy" on social media follows.
When the stigmatizing allegations are false, your publication has in effect cooperated in convicting an innocent person. The jury verdict of "not guilty" cannot undo all the damage that has been done.
It is not the role of the press to be the judge or jury. As a part of a good journalism team, the possibility of innocence should be considered each and every time the choice is made to print an article detailing scandalous criminal charges. Keep in mind that anyone with an imagination and encouragement to do so can fabricate a slanderous story. I'm sure you are aware that some quality media sources choose only to include a report on charges filed when those charges are substantiated by a conviction.
Information that the Echo Press prints and how it is presented impacts the lives of real people. The anguish suffered by a family because of false accusations and the circulating of them far and wide is of no consequence to anyone on your staff. Until one has been in that situation they cannot remotely imagine it.
Your organization has both the power and opportunity to uphold the American ideal of "innocent until proven guilty." In the future I hope you will give that serious consideration.
Cynthia K. Koll