At what point does “trial by media” cross over to everlasting damage? Damage to individuals and damage to our national fiber, our collective soul?
Whom do we believe any longer? When presidential candidates are simply assumed to be lying? When the major media feeds debate questions in advance? When the internet allows anyone, anywhere, to start vicious rumors and “report” developments which are no more than suppositions?
On a large scale, what does this do to our self-governance? On a small scale, what does it do to the lives snared in the dark webs woven by the instigators looking for their fifteen minutes of fame, seeking the money which follows if their shrillness gains traction?
We aim to create the script and funding structure for a film which uses real-life events – a famous early chapter in what has become the trial by media phenomena – to look at how a confluence of prejudice regarding class and race, the survival instincts of a sovereign institution, new outlets for communication such as the internet and social media, the main stream media’s need for revenue, an elected official’s betrayal of the public trust – a whole unimaginable mix which, assuming a life of its own, causes damage to reputations of players, large and small.
“It’s Not About the Truth” is a book which we have optioned as a vehicle to examine trial by media – it is the Duke lacrosse scandal as seen from the personal side, the side of Mike Pressler, the Coach who was unjustly fired just weeks after a media storm overwhelmed the school, the students and the local community.
As the years have passed, it is obvious that the victims of this piece of history are manifold – it as though a force six hurricane scarred the landscape of institution and individual alike. This film, along the lines of All the President’s Men and Spotlight, will not attempt to be a narrow re-hashing of events, but rather look objectively at the gathering storm, the hit, and the aftermath.
There are few true innocents, but there are many victims – that is the irony of the events of 2006.
We believe that this film should be a self examination for us all, and that the events of today’s media environment surely reinforce the need to gain some sort of perspective on how to frame the world in which we live and its communication methods. Rational leadership by story is our goal, and the anguish felt by all sides in this drama, especially the innocents, will be a valuable tool in the telling.