Ohhhhhh J, Did you do it? (Week 4)

A public sphere represents a place where individuals in society can come together and debate/discuss current issues. It gives civilisation a voice to speak up, create opinion and question to what extent, what is intentionally or unintentionally provided to us via the mediascape?

 As our outlook and intake from the media has changed considerably over time, we have learnt “how journalism and popular culture mix together” in which we use the news to interpret our own characters and write our own plots, rather than being provided with “varied glimpses of the world” (Berkowitz, 2009, pg. 290). A perfect example of journalism in the mediascape being heavily affected by audience demand and feedback is the 1994 “OJ Simpson Murder Trial,” I mean “IF HE DID IT?” mwahaha

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OJ Simpson, also known as “The Juice”, was a previous running back for the Buffalo Bills, which gave him a considerable sporting fan base. Did the sporting fans believe he murdered his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman? OBVIOUSLY NOT!

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“June 17th, 1994 Fans supporting OJ in Wild Care Chase”

However, this trial was also held during a time of sensitive racial discrimination and social justice issues, in which African Americans made up “51% of the prison population, and only 12% of the total population” (Fairfield, 1997). This particular audience saw the mean for change, public discussion and the emerging era of equality amongst black and whites. For the sake of their future they created a demand for the media to portray what they wanted to see, an African-American non-guilty male, being “finally set-free” from the unjust social justice system.

This humongous sporting and African American fan base gave the public a considerable amount of power over the media. The news stories began to change from “guilty” to “not guilty” as journalisms “social role begun to change” (Berkowitz, 2009, pg. 292). OJ addicts began to appear, with thirty-minute summaries shown several times daily, CNN-live coverage throughout the day and OJ Simpson cruise ships! Which I still struggle to fathom! The power of the audience began to prevail over the media, struggling to define what was real, important and worthy of attention?

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 “Newspaper articles, changing from guilty to not guilty”

In this particular case, the journalists were used as “mediators to the audience, who use their own right and popular texts to negotiate and express their own opinions and ideologies” (Weinblatt, 2009). This mediation is evident between the media and the audience, as the murder evidence including OJ’s hair, fibres, gloves, blood in his car and shoe prints were expressed to the audience via mainstream media, what did they interpret? NOT GUILTY!

As we see popular culture, audience feedback, and journalism evolving, the distinct lines between each element become “blurred”. As Berkowitz (2009, pg. 291) elaborates that “the flow goes both ways”, as I interpret as each factor relies on the other, and without interaction both media outlets and audience interest would be lost. Cartoon’s, such as “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” have used a balance of mainstream media and audience inclusion to create a humorous recount on actual media events.

Reference List:

Berkowitz, D 2009, ‘Journalism in the broader cultural mediascape, 2009’, Journalism, vol. 10, pp. 290-292

Cartoon Stock, Oj Simspon Cartoons and Comics, JPEG, accessed 27/03/2014 http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/o/oj_simpson.asp

Ebay, OJ Not Guilty, JPEG, accessed 27/03/2014 http://www.ebay.com/bhp/oj-simpson-newspaper

Fairfield, C 1997, ‘Rage and denial: The media and the OJ trials’, The Humanist, vol. 57, no.3, pp. 24-26

Mail Online, Two-hour car chase, JPEG, accessed 27/03/2014 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2579227/Nicole-Brown-Simpsons-sister-opens-murder-20-years-on.html

Visual Page, Trail of Blood, JPEG, accessed 27/03/2014 http://ddunleavy.typepad.com/the_big_picture/journalism/

Weinblatt, K 2009, ‘Where is Jack Bauer when you need him? The uses of television drama in mediated political discourse’, Political Communication, vol. 26, no.4, pp. 367-387

YouTube 2009, The OJ Simpsons – If I Did It — Director’s Cut, accessed 27/03/2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGmOocCVD_k

YouTube 2011, OJ Simpson Verdict Reactions, accessed 27/03/2014,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBSzvXydptQ

YouTube 2012, Family Guy- O.J. Simpson Helps Lois; O.J. Throws Stewie, accessed 27/03/2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYYUoxh8tvg

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