Media Travesty: {The Story of Troy Davis}

I have been thinking a lot about how we present media information, because Yahoo! happens to be my homepage. First, I thought about how we use headlines, but pondered on what news we tell.

On Tuesday, Troy Davis received the death penalty in Georgia, to die yesterday on Wednesday, September 21, 2011. He has now been executed. Before the trial ended, the defense’s case had all but fallen apart. Seven of the nine witnesses recanted or contradicted their testimonies, and one who didn’t was a man also convicted. Troy Davis received the death penalty for killing a police officer in 1989.

Now, this story began streaming on Yahoo! on Thursday morning, the day after he was put to death. The only reason I was kept up-to-date on the trial was because of Facebook. What bothers me is that the media doesn’t want to cover something until after the “thing” is over. What about yesterday when people were gathering outside of the prison? No news story for that? Instead, they put out stories about exorbitant muffins, Starbucks t-shirt designs, and houses built for cats.

What is less important about this trial than that of Casey Anthony? With so little evidence, the court still moved forward to execute this man. It was law, they said. It needed to be done, they said. I’m undecided on the innocence of Troy Davis, because I have not studied his case extensively. I do, however, believe his trial was handled with very little tact. The evidence fell apart. In the end, Davis was asked to “prove his innocence” rather than have the prosecution “prove his guilt” (something it could no longer do). This was a clear failure of our legal system.

Not only did we convict a man with little evidence against him, we killed him. We locked him in prison for 22 years, then killed him. As far as the death penalty goes, how can we even judge that other men can die? Simply: it’s cheaper. It’s cheaper to kill someone than keep them in prison. And so we twist arms and leap through loopholes, pushing men toward the execution chamber.

So, this post is affronting two things: the fairness of our legal system and the philosophy of media. Although the story was generally well-known, or even because it was, perhaps the story should have been featured in detail days ago, when first the spark began. When first Davis’ death sentence was being signed. I mean, there are people like me, not even born when this trial took place originally.

What are your thoughts on the Davis’ case? How do you think the court handled it?