While cases of “trial by media” are hardly uncommon, especially after high-profile crimes, the long-term damage resulting from this kind of publicity is often impossible to measure. But how does this kind of media exposure affect the outcome of criminal trials? Even though the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (Links to an external site.), along with similar laws around the world, are meant to guarantee the right of all defendants to a “fair and impartial jury,” ensuring this isn’t always possible. Not only are jurors expected to base their decision solely on evidence presented at trial, but the principle of impartiality means that they cannot have any prior opinions about the case they’re deciding, including whether or not the defendant is guilty.

The purpose of this assignment is to look at a specific court case from our case list in the modules tab and determine how the media impacted that case’s outcome.

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Your essay will argue that the media had a positive effect for the accused (they got a “not guilty” verdict or a light punishment) or a negative impact on the accused’s sentencing (they were judged unfairly or received no mercy in sentencing). Once you have chosen the side you will argue, use evidence from the library and other sources to support your argument. You will need at least three outside sources for this essay, one of which must be from the library databases.


The audience for this essay is your instructor (who is very familiar with all of these cases) and your classmates (who may not be as familiar). This means you will need to provide background information on the crime and context for the court trial as well as the actual media coverage.


Avoid first and second person language in this essay. Maintain a high academic tone through word choice and structure.



You must use at least three sources for this essay. One of these sources must come from the library databases. Your essay must include the following:

A well-crafted, specific thesis statement that follows one of the provided formats (we will work on these in class).
At least three well-supported points in support of your stance, explaining your salient points.
A work cited page.


Your essay should be at least four full pages in length and follow MLA format guidelines. All quotes, paraphrases, and summaries must be cited both in-text and in the works cited page. An engaging, interesting title should be used.

Trial by Media Essay
Trial by Media Essay
Criteria Ratings Pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeFocus
The paper has a clear and central point. One main point clearly controls the entire paper and clearly a researched argument essay.
30 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeThesis Statement
Clear, concise thesis statement tells the reader how media impacted the outcome of a criminal trial. It should include: context, media bias, and effect of bias on the trial’s outcome.
10 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeDevelopment and Support
The paper’s major ideas are clearly and logically developed. Specific textual support is evident in each paragraph. Clear media bias evidence throughout.
30 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeOrganization and Structure
The presentation order is clear and logical. The reader does not get lost in the paper. Good transition sentences. One key idea per paragraph
25 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeMechanics
The paper conforms to accepted grammar rules. Few errors appear.
15 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomePrompt
Paper follows prompt completely. Essay length is a full 4-6 pages, MLA format. Three sources used; at least one source came from the library databases.
15 pts
Total Points: 125

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