Breaking controversial topic. With everyone having an opinion on

Breaking
news strikes the country after former NFL player and actor Orenthal James “O.J”
Simpson was under suspicion for the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown
Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. Due to his celebrity status, his trial
became extremely publicized. Every media outlet covered the story turning the
trial into worldwide news. Millions of people around the world tuned in to watch
or listen to the 133 televised courtroom testimonies. The media played a major
role in shaping society’s opinion of O.J. Simpson making it a very controversial
topic. With everyone having an opinion on his case it soon became worldwide news.
The trials of O.J. Simpson made a monumental impact on the world’s media and
entertainment evolution making it the “trial of the century.”

            O.J Simpson was very well known and respected for his
rare athletic talent which made him one of the most marketable athletes in the
country during his prime. This American icon was later charged with two counts
of murder which had left the world in shambles. On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown
Simpson and Ronald Goldman bodies were found slashed outside Brown’s condo on
Bundy Drive in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. O.J. plead “not guilty” in
both counts but the evidence that was found and collected at the scene led
police to suspect that he was the murderer. Although the physical evidence was
poorly collected and with no other identifiable suspects it left millions of
people to question whether Simpson was guilty or not. After deliberating and
analyzing the evidence in court, the jury came back with a verdict of not
guilty (Rieder, 2014). It is easy to understand why the Simpson
trial had gained so much public attention due to the fact that he
was possibly the most famous person in the country to ever be tried for murder.

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The
media turned Simpson’s case into a news soap opera. You could not turn on the
radio, television, or read the newspaper without O.J. Simpson’s case being brought
up. Ratings went up every time a story about O.J. Simpson was covered because that’s
what the public wanted to see (Williamson, 2004). Over 100 million viewers
tuned in daily looking for any new information regarding the case. At the time
it wasn’t common for media to put all their attention on just one topic, but in
this case, it was making them a lot of money. At first, the media portrayed
O.J. as a man grieving the loss of his ex-wife which led people to believe he
was innocent. But as time went on and more of the story began to surface, a lot
of people began to think otherwise. Simpson had a history with the authorities being
called on him multiple times for stalking, abusing, and causing a disturbance
to his ex-wife (Swiecicki, 2014). The media fed off that negativity to keep their
audience entertained by sending out biased or dramatized information (Rem
Rieder, 2014). Society’s opinion was strongly affected by the media coverage
and a majority of people had already considered O.J. Simpson to be a criminal
even before the trial had taken place.

When
O.J. had officially been charged with the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and
Ronald Goldman, Simpson went on a high-speed chase with the police after
refusing to turn himself in. The pursuit had been televised raking in over 90
million viewers across the United States (Babb, 2014). That day most television
stations chose only to broadcast about the chase so other news was not covered.
The media also chose to allow the police chase to interrupt the 1994 NBA
finals. Anyone that wanted to watch the basketball game instead was forced to
watch the breaking news whether they wanted to or not. With O.J. being the
leading suspect in the case, due to his celebrity status, the courts also allowed
the trials to be televised for all America to see. The trial took place for 16
months and quickly became one of the first major televised trials. Programs
like Entertainment News would dramatize parts of the trial, to make it seem
like a television show (Tieke, 2014).  All this mainstream coverage raised
the question if cameras would negatively affect O.J Simpson’s case.

Since
all of America was able to watch the trials it made some American’s believe the
courts were corrupt. Some television programs made the case look like a tv
drama which made many people take it as a joke. People also had their own
opinions about whether or not the courts should even allow media coverage in
the courtroom at all. Everyone that tuned in to watch the trials had their own
opinions on whether O.J. was guilty or not. Simpson’s legal team felt like it
would take away from the actual case due to the media negatively influencing
the public’s opinion. It was a strong possibility that O.J could have been
convicted based off of opinions and not actual evidence. The television media
would get information and opinions from anyone just to keep the story going. This
became an issue because people’s negligent opinions were being presented as
legitimate news. People then began to turn their focus to the possibility the
police and the jury could be prejudice and basing their findings on bias
opinions rather than actual facts.

Race
had been an important part of the trial from the start. This changed many people’s
perception of O.J Simpson from being a suspect to a victim of racial profiling
while others saw the complete opposite. A lot of people claimed that the media
did not portray him in a fair way. Many media outlets made Simpson look bad on
purpose because that’s what people were interested in and that’s how they would
sell their stories. Although many people had their own bias opinions, it was
easy to point the finger at the black guy. This began to cause a lot of
controversial tension between how white media was reporting the trial and how
African-American media was reporting it. With a black defendant and two white
victims, it divided opinions based on racial lines (Sterrett, 2014). During
this time, it wasn’t uncommon in the African American community for police or
other officials to treat them unfairly or tamper with evidence. Many African
Americans believed that O.J. was innocent and was only being targeted because
of his race and status.

            The media illustrated earlier in the trial how Simpson’s
defense team used the race issue as an advantage ruling out that maybe he
didn’t actually commit these crimes. The jury for the case had nine black
members, two white, and one Asian (Rieder, 2014). Newspapers claimed O.J. was
only found not guilty because the defense team’s arguments convince the jury that
Simpson was a victim of racism. But even if it was just a strategy, it saved
Simpson from a guilty verdict. O.J. Simpson became an example of racial tension
and an inequality in the justice system (Rieder, 2014). Simpson also became a
trademark in the African American community as a positive example of a black
man who had overcome being unfairly prosecuted. Although throughout his career
Simpson spent much of his life distancing himself from the black community. Many
African-Americans still saw the former running back and actor as a pioneer and
cultural icon. It sent a powerful message to African Americans who weren’t able
to fight back against a system that was frequently unfair, and unjust. It gave
many African Americans hope that one day they too can overcome obstacles that
come along with being black.

            The 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial was one of the most documented
moments in recent US history (Babb, 2014). He opened many doors for surrounding
figures in the trial that later took on a celebrity level of fame for it. The
most common example is Robert Kardashian who was one of his attorneys. During
this time media was much less pervasive and back then it was uncommon for media
to only focus on one story. This was the first time people
were able to see so much information and media attention on just one person. So
many of those trends now play a huge part in our everyday lives. We took the positive
out of something negative and evolved into something greater. Almost two decades
later and we now have a 24-hour news cycle, a seemingly never-ending stream of
reality tv shows, and a high demand for celebrity gossip to captivate the
public’s attention (Babb, 2014). This would not have been initiated if it
wasn’t for the O.J. Simpson trials which opened the doors for many new ideas in
the news and entertainment industry.

The
way Simpson took over the media left a lingering impact on the world’s media
and entertainment that we still see today. This started many trends that we have
grown to love over time. Media outlets now cover every aspect of a person’s
life no matter how meaningless it may be. The media also has a strong influence
on how the world perceives breaking news. If something happens no matter how
big or small, it all depends on how the media covers the story. Reality tv also
became popular once television and broadcasting realized how much people
enjoyed watching real-life scenarios instead of just scripted ones. This was
the start of an entirely different media landscape which is still progressing
right now. Back then people would have never thought the idea of turning news into
entertainment would turn it into a revolution.

            The O.J. Simpson trial also made the world more aware of the
use of DNA evidence. The trial demonstrated it could be available to everyone and
there were a few people who watched the O.J. Simpson trials who saw that as an
opportunity. Many wrongfully convicted inmates began to use DNA evidence to prove
their innocence. Two members of Simpson’s defense team, Barry Scheck, and Peter
Neufeld, had earlier founded the Innocence Project which has helped overturn
316 convictions, including some that led to the death penalty (Swiechicki, 2014).
This trial is yet another example of how America turns its lemons into lemonade.

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