New Neflix docu-series “Trial by the Media” sheds light on media coverage in court cases


“Trail by the Media” highlights how the courtroom and media have evolved.

Carla Vreeland

“[For] high profile cases there are two trials: outside the courthouse and inside.”

Donald Watkins, the defense attorney for the former CEO of HealthSouth, Richard Scrushy, had perfectly encapsulated the significance of the media in many of today’s major court cases. 

“Trial by the Media” is a six-episode docu-series that was released on Netflix on March 11. Each episode analyzes how the media has deeply affected the events during and after trials throughout modern-day history.

The show received many positive reviews, but critic Brian Tallerico was hesitant to praise it. He maintained that while “Trial by the Media” was entertaining and would spark conversation, it lacks any novel insights. 

“If this series had come along even ten years ago it may have felt more impactful. At this point in the game, media coverage doesn’t just influence major cases, it is often one of the most important elements…,” Tallerico said. 

Despite some criticism, the vast amount of interviews from civil rights activists to lobbyists for the National Rifle Association strengthen the series and force people to understand different perspectives. The interviewees’ emotions and their portrayal of the events connect the viewer to the people of the time period, as well as establish their opinion of the matter. 

Further, regardless of the fact that each episode was directed by a different person, they felt consistent, and there was a clear attempt from each to find interviews that fully demonstrated each side of the cases that were shown. In each shot, the use of music, silence, and images emphasized the uncomfortable nature of what was addressed and created a passion within the viewer. 

While some episodes crawled along at a slower pace, often including extraneous information, every interview and idea seemed intentional. My emotions and perspective changed throughout each episode, and I became infatuated with finding out the outcome, just as the public had while following the media’s portrayal of these court cases when they occurred. 

Each perspective that was illustrated in the new series “Trial by the Media” grants the viewer insight into some of the most influential and momentous court cases during the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as the stunning ways that the media affects the court system.