Aarushi: Trial by media?

‘Trial by media’ is another expression that is as overused as foot wipers at public toilets. Media cannot really escape the blame for blowing issues out of proportion and when it’s about high profile crimes, the pen-wielding sleuths work overtime to come up with strange – and sometimes outrageous – admixtures of facts and fiction. However, with all its shortcomings free media is precious and indispensible for responsible governance and the empathetic governed. In Aarushi’s case, the media did not have an option but to disclose what it did because it was official police version no matter how damaging to the reputation of the deceased. Media could not have helped disclosing it without compromising its duty as the principle disseminator of information.

News inspires views and journalists have their own way of looking at what they perceive as truth. It does, at times, cloud their judgment of a news story. Therefore, while one journalist might consider a particular piece of information relevant to the case, the other might discard it as not only irrelevant but also doubtful simply because it does not fit his conception of the chain of events leading to the crime. And though mistakes and errors in judging the newsworthiness of a story are thus possible, these are quite pardonable so long as the scribes work in good faith.

So, media in case of Aarushi cannot really be accused of inappropriately handling the reportage by allowing the not-so-clean portrayal of Aarushi’s character. Since the little girl was not old enough to have developed a ‘character’ and was quite vulnerable to unhealthy influences, it is not proper to point fingers at her. Agreed. But then media did not really indulge in finger-pointing, it simply reported the facts regarding the official claims. And we are still not sure whether or not the police story deserves credence. Truth howsoever unholy and unsavoury has to be told irrespective of the damage it does to anyone unless, of course, it’s prohibited by law, or the possible damage far outweighs all the good that the truth could do. But this one is not such a case for sure.

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