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Media coverage, Death of Caylee Anthony, Florida - Research Paper Example

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Media Coverage of the Death of Caylee Anthony University Media Coverage of the Death of Caylee Anthony When a child is killed, her mom or dad can be expected to lead the fight for justice. But when a parent is involved, the rest of us have to step up and speak for the voiceless child…
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Media Coverage of the Death of Caylee Anthony Media Coverage of the Death of Caylee Anthony When a child is killed, her mom or dad can be expected to lead the fight for justice. But when a parent is involved, the rest of us have to step up and speak for the voiceless child. Millions of people have watched this case unfold from Day One, riveted by the story of a little girl who was tossed away like trash and a mother who didn’t seem to care. (Pater, 2011) The above petition description expressed the public outrage after Casey Anthony, mother and suspected killer of 2-year old Caylee Anthony, was acquitted. The petition started by Maureen Pater, a resident of Danver, Massachusetts was just one of more than a hundred petitions at related to the Anthony case. Other petitions called for federal agencies to reopen the case, while others wanted to pressure Cindy and George Anthony, parents of Casey to sue their daughter for killing their grandchild. Others, who recognized Casey’s new celebrity status wanted to prevent her from earning profit from the sale of her life story. Comments from various news stories about the Anthony case showed that everyone was convinced of Casey’s guilt, and her acquittal came as a shock to America. How can the land of the free allow a monster to roam its streets? What is wrong with our justice system? Many people asked. Just like the Matthew Sheppard murder, the Casey Anthony case received national media attention because it had elements of a “good melodrama” (Ott & Aoki, 2002). It touched on various social issues in America - from teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse in families, mental health issues and insufficient support of the government for single parents – most of which are largely undiscussed in our country’s legislative halls. It looked at a young child and the future she will never have. And perhaps the most sensational of all its elements is the unimaginable, horrific effect a dysfunctional family can have on an individual that can lead her to murder her own child. Two e of the earliest news stories found bore an impersonal titles: “Girl, 2, Missing For Over A Month” (Central Florida News, 2008a) and “Missing Florida Girl's Grandmother Asks Police to Arrest Daughter for 'Grand Theft' in 911 Call” (Donaldson-Evans, 2008). It was published only a few days after the Casey’s arrest was made. At this point, there were still many uncertainties as to Caylee was. By the August 2008, when Casey was finally charged with child neglect and Felony, people were finally ready to think of the unthinkable: that a mother can be so neglectful, she does not report the disappearance of her child. During this period, headlines have become more personal, mentioning Caylee or Casey’s name in the title, and assuming that whoever was reading the news, they would already have heard who these two people were. Some of these news stories were: “Casey Anthony Released From Jail” (Central Florida News, 2008b), “Caylee's Hair Found In Trunk Of Casey's Car” (Central Florida News, 2008c). Despite the fact that it was only a month after Caylee was reported to be missing and evidence pointing to her location were still inconclusive, the media has already created its own version of the story. By the time CNN’s Nancy Grace found out about the Anthony’s, the public was already convinced that Casey was already convicted as a liar. And if she could let 31 days pass without reporting her child’s disappearance, then she was a bad mother. This claim can be supported by a transcript of Nancy Grace’s interview with Jose Baez (Central Florida News, 2008d): Nancy Grace: Why didn't your client report her missing immediately? Jose Baez: Well, her reasons and explanations for those are confidential, and I can't reveal them at this time. Grace: You know that doesn't make any sense. Baez: Well, you know, I'm sorry it doesn't make any sense to you, but you don't know what our defense may be. Grace: Your defense to what? Baez: Any charges that may arise where she is prosecuted. I have to protect my client, and it's something I must do and took an oath to do. Grace: You're hiding behind the attorney client privilege. Baez: I'm not hiding behind anything. Grace: You are. By then, the stage for the story was already set, and any new developments in the case were weighed against this benchmark. When new evidences were discovered in the course of the trial, they were interpreted based on this background. This was a clear indication of the scapegoat mechanism, “a complex process [wherein individuals or societies] … ritualistically cleanse themselves of guilt” (Ott & Aoki, 2002, p. 490). Casey Anthony became the epitome of everything wrong in the society – the lies, the corruption, the materialistic lifestyle - and Caylee was a vision of the future – broken, and lifeless. This case showed America what can happen if did not take steps in addressing the various social issues plaguing families today. It did not matter that mistakes were made during the investigation what mattered was that the evil has been identified and must be expunged. Protesters started to gather around the Anthony home (Central Florida News, 2008e), many of them heckling and calling for justice for Caylee. One of the protesters said, “Why I'm here today is to say what happened to Caylee is wrong, and there should be more people standing in support to figure out where the child is…Don't support this family; don't support George and Cindy. Support Caylee, and find out where she is" (Central Florida News, 2008e). None of them realized that the Caylee’s family is also struggling with her disappearance and the possibility that her mother is involved. The expunging of the evil would’ve been complete if Casey Anthony was found guilty and was sentenced with lifetime imprisonment, or death penalty. But this was not bound to happen, as the evidence was not enough to prove that Casey did in fact murder her child. Of course, the entire country was shocked with the decision, because they had it all figured out – the car smelled of a decomposed human body, it had a child-sized stain, and chloroform was found inside (Orlando Sentinel, 2008). The family computer revealed searches for “neck-breaking” and “chloroform”. Casey was partying even when she knew her child was missing. She got a tattoo saying Bella Vitta. Wasn’t these proof enough that she had the motive to dispose of her daughter? But as the rule of law states that the burden of proof lies of on the prosecution, Casey was bound to be free as most evidences found during investigation was circumstantial and did not explain Caylee’s death, nor did these evidences tie these back to her mother. While the media was able to create a story utilizing the many information they have uncovered during the period, it was important to realize that these were not conclusive enough, and were only be regarded as hearsay. Dubbed by Time US as the social media trial of the century (Cloud, 2011), the Casey Anthony trial remains as a prime example on how media can create stories in order to elicit emotional responses from its audience. Media may take out some information in order to support their story line and to sensationalize a news story. Often, such stories do not discuss the entirety of the situation and tends to highlight only the aspects that support their story. References Central Florida News. (2008a). Girl, 2, Missing For Over A Month. Orlando. Retrieved from Central Florida News. (2008b). Casey Anthony Released From Jail. Orlando. Retrieved from Central Florida News. (2008c). Caylee’s Hair Found In Trunk Of Casey's Car. Orlando. Retrieved from Central Florida News. (2008d). Casey Anthony’s Lawyer Vs. Nancy Grace. Orlando. Retrieved from Central Florida News. (2008e). Volunteers Spend Labor Day Searching For Caylee. Orlando. Retrieved from Cloud, J. (2011, June). How the Casey Anthony Murder Case Became the Social-Media Trial of the Century. Time. Retrieved from,8599,2077969,00.html Donaldson-Evans, C. (2008, July 25). Missing Florida Girl’s Grandmother Asks Police to Arrest Daughter for “Grand Theft” in 911 Call. Fox News. Orlando. Retrieved from Orlando Sentinel. (2008). Timeline of events: Caylee Anthony. Orlando. Retrieved from,0,3157747.htmlpage Ott, B. L., & Aoki, E. (2002). The politics of negotiating public tragedy: Media framing of the Matthew Shepard murder. Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 5(3), 1094–8392. Pater, M. (2011). We demand the release of all sealed evidence of the Casey Anthony trial! Change.Org. Retrieved March 6, 2013, from Read More
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