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EDITORIAL: Media, social media and the justice system – The Guardian

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Here’s an explanation that might not satisfy everyone.

But give it a try.

WSAV reporter Alex Bozarjian was doing a live report on a road race in Savannah, Georgia on Dec. 7, when a passing runner, later identified as Thomas Callaway, a Boy Scout leader and church youth volunteer, appeared to reach out and smack her on the butt.

To be clear, the behaviour is in no way acceptable: just because you’re doing your job in a public place doesn’t mean there’s an open season on unwanted physical contact or even shouted obscenities.

As Bozarjian’s employers were quick to point out: “The conduct displayed toward Alex Bozarjian during her live coverage of Saturday’s Savannah Bridge Run was reprehensible and completely unacceptable … No one should ever be disrespected in this manner. The safety and protection of our employees is WSAV-TV’s highest priority.”

The sooner people in the public — particularly star-struck oafish males who have a lot of growing up to do — recognize that and modify their behaviour, the better for us all.

There are a host of different headlines about the case: “Runner who allegedly smacked TV reporter’s backside charged with sexual battery”, “Runner who allegedly sexually assaulted reporter has been arrested”, “Man accused of slapping reporter’s backside on air charged with sexual battery”.

And that’s where things get interesting.

Social media, where video of the situation took off internationally, has since had some interesting questions not only about Callaway’s behaviour, but about the way the news media reported the event.

Here’s a sample that explains the new issue succinctly: “Just wish they’d stop putting ‘accused’ and ‘alleged’ before his name WE HAVE IT ON VIDEO.”

So, why “alleged”? Why “accused”?

The reason is both simple and complicated; criminal charges are involved.

And that changes everything,

The western justice system is based on the presumption of innocence.

Accurately reporting on cases in that justice system involves recognizing that people accused of crimes are innocent until those crimes are proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

It sounds like splitting hairs, but it’s both arcane and necessary.

The facts are, in many ways, not in a great amount of dispute: the television reporter says she was slapped on the backside, the video shows that happening, and the man involved admits his did something he shouldn’t have done (although he maintains he touched her lower back).

But, right now, the media can’t actually report that Callaway committed a sexual assault, because it wouldn’t be accurate.

You can argue that there’s a pretty good chance that, given the available evidence so far, there’s a pretty good likelihood Callaway will plead guilty or be convicted.

But his conviction is not our job.

Sure, it’s frustrating.

But the media is not a substitute for the justice system, nor should it be.

And neither, by the way, is social media.

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The We Are podcast: Recapping Big Ten Media day – DKPittsburghSports.com

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<br /> Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins, Pirates News, Live Coverage | DK Pittsburgh Sports<br />

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Kirby Dach crashes Colton's first media session – FortSaskOnline.com

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Kirby Dach crashes Colton’s first media session  FortSaskOnline.com



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Watch Live: Oliver Ekman-Larsson addresses media after trade to Canucks – Sportsnet.ca

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