On watching CourtTV

It’s been a pretty busy week around here in general– surprisingly, because at the beginning of the week, I thought I was going to have a lot more time to write and read than I thought I would. One of my interruptions this week has been the Orange Taylor trial and its coverage on CourtTV. This has been a topic of conversation on the community blog I run, EMUTalk.org, for months and months– here’s a link to the category on that blog. More details there than you could shake a stick at, but basically, Orange Taylor is on trial as I type for the murder of Laura Dickinson last December, a murder that EMU administrators essentially covered up and that cost some of them, notably President John Fallon, their jobs.

Now the Taylor trial is the “featured trial” on CourtTV– they’re calling it the “Dorm Room Murder.” Normally, I don’t watch CourtTV, but since this is a very local story for me, I’ve been tuning in when I can.The coverage I’m watching is just the audio of the interview with Taylor before he was charged with anything, so what you hear is a recording made back in January (where they are talking about a crime in December 2006 and where they are discussing pictures and videos and such from back then) and video of the court live. Right now, they’re focusing on Taylor and the police officer who conducted the interview reading the transcript of the audio.

I have to say it’s fascinating viewing. Again, it might just be that I’m more interested because it is something that is happening here– literally, I could ride my bike to the court house and I’ll be on campus later today. But just the way this is presented, with all these different mediums mashed together to make the story and compelling TV.

And it isn’t just a “the facts and only the facts” kind of presentation. CourtTV anchors interrupt the trial about every 15 minutes or so before the commercial breaks and to usually talk to lawyer commentators. Now, I’m no lawyer and everyone is presumed innocent and such, but without going into any detail, the evidence against Orange Taylor is pretty overwhelming. But in the world of CourtTV, “reasonable doubt” is key: commentators talk about whether or not the interview was even legal, about the validity of Taylor’s story, etc., etc. And it occurred to me that in TV-land, they have to do this. If the commentators came on and said “oh, he’s guilty as hell,” then most viewers would turn the channel.

I don’t know exactly what that all says (and maybe it’s patently obvious), but I still think it’s interesting.

One other thing I’ve learned from this: if the police ask you to come in for an interview for any reason (well, unless you are clearly the victim of a crime), bring a lawyer. Taylor, who is proving himself not to be one of EMU’s best and brightest in this interview, more or less gives the police all that they need to file charges against him just through this “informal interview.”

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