Brief, General News Analysis

As you’ve probably heard by now, a female grad student at Yale disappeared last week and was found dead a couple of days ago. Today the medical examiner announced the cause of death was asphyxiation.

This story is freaky as hell and very sad. It also makes the perfect news story, but I’m not so cynical as to waste time today reminding us all why this disappearance and murder were considered so much more “newsworthy” than the dozens that occur each day in this country.

What I do what to comment on is this article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/nyregion/17yale.html?_r=1&hp

Although the police have not charged anyone with a crime yet, and claim to have multiple persons of interest they need to talk to still, this fairly lengthy-for-a-news-update article makes clear that the reporter thinks Raymond Clark III, a lab tech, killed Ms. Le. It spends multiple paragraphs dissecting him and the so-far-barely-circumstansial evidence that damns him.  They even published an ominous picture of the stairs up to his apartment!

For all I know, this guy totally did it. That said, he hasn’t even been charged yet, so although I understand the reporter wants to scoop this story, I often wonder what happens to all those who are accused in the media but actually didn’t commit a crime.

Think about it: let’s say this guy had nothing to do with Ms. Le’s murder. However, he’s now all over the national and international news, as well as the internet, as a suspected brutal killer. Moreover, again, thanks to the internet, even if the New York Times fixates on a new loner guy tomorrow, if you google Mr. Carver for the next few years (at LEAST), he’s still going to look like a murderer.

The American judicial system has the philosophy of “innocent until proven guilty,” but the media often spins things the other way around.  Even if Mr. Carver never faces any legal repercussions, in the last four hours, his life has already changed irrevocably, and his reputation is ruined.  I feel weird saying this, but I hope he’s actually the murderer — if not, we just scapegoated an innocent man and left him to rot, just so one reporter could potentially advance in the crime news world.

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