I’ve always liked to believe in the concept: “Innocent until proven guilty.” I’m not a fan of “The Court of Public Opinion.”

I’ve never believed our court system was perfect. I’ve also always thought that none of us would ever want to be tried by a so-called “jury of your peers.”  While I think we each owe it to the system to be a jurist, honestly, a jury box is the last place I want to spend any time so I’ve always been greatly relieved when I was “released” from duty and I was always tempted to frame my release card — so I had it as service proof, just in case I got called again before my next official call date!

So back to my premise: Today the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” has never been more endangered. This is a cultural shame.

I think it’s largely the result of a 24/7/365 news cycle where hundreds of channels plus the internet are all battling for eyeballs so they can charge companies more to advertise their products and create more consumption. It’s an incestuous cycle that we all buy into to one degree or another.

Throughout the years when an outlet would print something incorrect about one of our PR clients — the immediate urge from the client was always “Call the outlet and demand a retraction!” But I’d remind these leaders of a couple of things: 1) Retractions typically appear grudgingly in the tiniest print, hidden in the back pages nobody ever reads.  And 2) The expression used to be, “Don’t go to battle with those who buy ink by the barrel.” (Meaning as individuals we use pens to write whereas powerful news conglomerates have tons of the proverbial “ink.”) So, the odds of a satisfactory retraction are slim to none.

Now let’s bring this to each of us individually: Thanks to the internet — the ink is free! Everyone has access to “say” and “print” whatever they want.  And WAYYYYYY TOOOO OFTEN this means convicting someone — cancelling their rights to a fair trial by an unbiased jury — before all the facts are considered.   

What do you think about this trend? I’d love to hear thoughtful opinions.

I’m @DianGriesel aka @SilverDisobedience