Dawn Gay /
Dawn Gay / My blog

From OJ to OP

February 22, 2013

At the moment politicians are flicking through the libel bill in Parliament and media controls are under the spotlight in a post Leveson frenzy. It could be a depressing time for journalists who are concerned about freedom of speech and state intervention on reporting.

But then came along the Pistorius case and media circus backed its metaphorical bags and headed to the Southern Hemisphere for some ‘no holds barred’ story telling.

The murder story aside, the hearing itself has provided prime cuts of news fodder. And I’m not talking about horse burgers any more. Here in the UK, contempt of court laws for a fair and balanced trial would quash any pre-verdict press speculation. With preliminary or committal hearings in a magistrate’s court only the skeletal facts can be reported. Even less under the Children and Young Persons Act and when a victim’s identification needs to be protected.

Over in Pretoria, it’s literally a different case. The scene during the bail hearing is a disorganised courtroom with family members mingling, camera crews fighting for space and reporters filing from their videophones. Where is the hammer? Order, ORDER! All the facts are reported making it an international ‘whodunnit’ case. The bail hearing is slowly becoming a courtroom drama.

The added twist to the tale is that it is the fall of a sporting legend – a super hero Paralympic icon to boot. Philandering footballers, match fixing cricketers, chemically enhanced cyclists – they all sell papers.

Back in 1995, the US televised OJ Simpson murder case, gave TV soap operas a run for their money with nearly a year of coverage of the case. In the same vein as the OJ case – guilty or not – Pistorius will hire a defence team who will be able to hold court for many months.

And how long before Hollywood hooks into this impending saga – Oscar Pistorius: The Movie…

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