The Media and Crime

Journalism and crime maintain an interesting relationship. Each relies on the other to survive and, in some cases, thrive. Media organizations regularly report on crime and often maintain dedicated “beats” or circuits that a particular journalist would be responsible for, such as the courts. Criminals on the other hand use the media for their own purposes as well. In some cases, criminals may be trying to get publicity, either for themselves or a specific cause. In other cases they may use the media to taunt the police. What cannot be denied is the relationship between the two. Yet, how is that relationship to be defined? What laws govern it and where does one, either the journalist or the criminal, draw the line?

Among the dynamic’s various manifestations is the journalist’s source. For as long as journalism has been a profession journalists have had to rely on “anonymous” tips from people for their information. These sources have been integral to the uncovering of a variety of crimes and sometimes, if not often, these people have been criminals themselves. Essentially, journalistic sources are no less different in role or function than police informants and as such, they are often accorded the same degree of protection by the media as an informant would be accorded by the police. This is all well and good as this system helps to encourage people to speak out without fear of persecution and we would probably see many more crimes and scandals simply swept under the carpet if not for it. However, there is another side to the coin which brings me to the crux of my discussion here. When, in fact, does this marriage of convenience between journalist and criminal break the rules? When does journalistic integrity become lost?

With the FIFA World Cup fast approaching this year, the media has been inundated with stories that have sought to highlight, sensationalise or refute the issue of crime in South Africa. There is has been one recent case in particular that has caught the public’s attention though. e.TV, a South African broadcaster, aired a news segment on the attitudes of local criminals to the tougher police stance on crime as well as any possible criminal opportunities during the World Cup. The two interviewed criminals vowed to continue perpetrating violent crime on people during the showpiece event with particular attention being given to foreign tourists. They also showed contempt for the police’s hard new approach and vowed to shoot any officers attempting to arrest them. The segment sparked an outcry with the police demanding that e.TV hand over the identities of the criminals interviewed. The station refused to do so and two journalists have now been subpoenaed to reveal their sources. The journalists claim that they cannot disclose the identities of their sources as it would compromise their journalistic integrity. Strictly speaking, this seems a fair point to make, but soon fades as the situation gets further complicated.

On Tuesday, the 19th of January 2010, the police found a body with a suicide note and biographical information on one of the e.TV journalists. The man had been poisoned. The note as well as the biographical information has led the police to allege that the body is in fact one of the interviewed criminals. According to unconfirmed radio reports on the day, the man allegedly blamed e.TV for ruining his life and decided to end it and this is where issues of journalistic integrity become more complicated for me. Was e.TV right to protect their sources? My answer is yes. However, what of the decision to air such a segment in the first place? I have to say no. It was a bad decision. Such a segment only served to sensationalise the realities of crime in South Africa. It was pure TV in that the only good it did was possibly increasing the station’s ratings. However, the segment ended up turning the police against the station not to mention public opinion. Finally, it led to the unnecessary death of a human being.

Essentially, this man, though criminal he may be, was sacrificed on the media alter of hits, ratings and sales and that is the very anti-thesis of journalist integrity. We in the media are encouraged to use all elements of society, be they criminal or not, to pursue stories for the greater good of the public and so we should. However, when that line gets blurred in the pursuit of sensationalism and money we have to ask ourselves, what line am I willing to cross and, more importantly, who will get hurt by this story. There are very few stories worth sacrificing lives for and this was not one of them.

Aim of Legal Directories and Legal Information Providers

There are certain problematic occasions when you need an attorney and comprehensive legal assistance. It is essential to take legal decisions seriously otherwise it could lead to severe consequences and even jail also. Whether you need a bail bond agent or an immigration attorney for your favor in court that can defend you. Therefore, it is always good to seek them for instant help. You can also search them online through online legal directories. Most of the people find attorney as and when needed through the online search directories for utmost convenience. It is the simplest method to search and locate a lawyer in your region through these legal resources.

In fact, these legal resources are the pure repository of the complete profiles of the attorneys, their experience, office address and their area of expertise. These resources also provide vital set of legal information to the public in order to make them aware about the legal terminologies. These directories itself serves as a catalog and provides enough information regarding, immigration law, bankruptcy law, divorce law, real estate law, intellectual property law, business law, tax law and other legal documents and forms. Even you can expect emancipation forms, guardianship forms, marriage forms, power of attorney forms (including, but not limited to, power of attorney durable, power of attorney – health care, limited power of attorney, power of attorney – childcare, power of attorney – revocation, and all types legal forms), name change forms, citizenship forms, passport forms, passport application, visa forms, federal tax forms and much more from these online legal resources.

The primary advantage is that you can find the best attorney for your DWI or any other legal difficulty, through online resources. In fact, you can find the renowned bail bond agent and bail Bond Company easily with the help of these websites. You can locate them and personally visit them to discuss criminal record (if any), history of showing up for past court appearances, and any other concerns. You can discuss the complete process and initiate it consequently. Moreover, you can access a list of the County jail locations and access to the County Jail Lockup system for your convenience.

Finding an attorney is supposed to be the common way that people adopt these days. It is not only an easy and simple way, but also the fastest means of getting legal information & assistance. Online law firm information providers or directories also offer free legal forms, guide for lawyers, the latest news and information that can be accessed free of cost. Anybody can access these directories for their personal reasons; however one thing must be noted that these legal directories cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation to a consumer about possible legal rights, defenses, selection of forms or strategies. The very aim of these directories is to modernize legal technology and develop technologies that facilitate internet marketing for legal professionals.

Unbalanced Scales – Weighing Marketing Options for Your Law Firm

The past few years have not been kind to any business, and law firms have, by and large, been no exception to the rule. People still need attorneys even in a down economy, but the fact of the matter is that they are less willing to spend money on attorneys fees when they have less money to begin with. None of this should come as any surprise, but it is surprising how often law firms and attorneys are at a loss when it comes to ways to find new clients. Unfortunately, this is a class that never gets taught in law school.

If you own or operate a law firm and haven’t had as much new business as you would like, then I want to introduce you to the concept of search engine optimization (commonly known as ‘SEO’). SEO is not the only way to market a legal practice, and although it’s one of the best ways, there are certainly situations where other forms of marketing may work better. Here’s why more law firms should pay attention to search engine optimization:

  1. Inbound Marketing: In the marketing industry, there is a common distinction between inbound and outbound marketing. In general, outbound marketing is an effort by the company in question to reach out to a potential client and initiate a client-relationship (think, for example, of calling a contact who you know might need your legal services). On the other hand, inbound marketing is marketing that aims to make a company visible to any potential clients who are actively looking for services or products offered by that company. The distinction is not always clear-cut, but it’s important for a law firm. In general, attorneys think about going out and networking (which is always an excellent idea), but the results are limited. Search Engine Optimization allows you to reach more potential clients more quickly.
  2. Efficiency: Let’s be frank – your law firm is your business, and you want to control costs like any other business. Advertising – even in print, but especially on TV – gets very expensive very fast. Advertising online is a good and attractive option, but I would argue that the money is better spent on a long-term SEO solution for your law firm. The rankings and traffic that result from good SEO can last for a very long time and can continue to benefit your law firm down the road.
  3. Competition: In today’s market, it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate your legal services from those provided by the attorney or lawyer down the street. Consequently, it’s prudent to take a different approach to marketing than the guy or gal down the street. There are law firms that already engage in SEO, but there are not as many as there could or should be, and you can take advantage of that fact.

Practicing law is not an easy profession, and the demands of the job have only increased over the past few decades. However, finding clients doesn’t need to be the most difficult part of your legal practice. As I mentioned above, search engine optimization is by no means the only way to get your law firm in front of more potential clients. It’s a method that we have helped many firms use to find many new clients on a ongoing basis.

If you want to get started, it probably makes sense to seek the help of a professional, although many SEO tactics can be tackled yourself if you have the time. In any event, I urge you to get started today, even if it’s with a different type of marketing. Your legal practice and career will greatly benefit down the road.

Keep Your Kid Safe On The Internet! Law Enforcement Agencies And Citizen Groups

I have already submitted a couple of articles about the dangers the internet holds for children. My next series of articles will be about the various citizen groups and law enforcement agencies that work to deter or stop predators and keep children safe online.

The first group I want to cover is a group called Perverted Justice. Their “nickname”, or what they are also known as is PeeJ. Perverted Justice is a citizen group that was set up for the purpose of identifying adults willing to have chat room sexual encounters with minors. Millions of Americans have seen this group in action during the operation series called “To Catch a Predator” that Dateline NBC carried out on the air.

The people who make up Perverted Justice are volunteers. These volunteers carry out sting operations, using “young” sounding screen names, such as sara_so_bored. They then wait for older men to approach them in chatrooms. The volunteers of PeeJ do not make the first contact with the adults, but instead wait to be approached.

Once the men approach the volunteer (who they think is a young teen girl or boy), the volunteer works to get identifying information from the men; information such as a phone number. This information is usually given during talk about setting up an offline meeting with the perceived minor. The PeeJ volunteer then uses a Reverse Look Up service to find out the name of the person who owns the telephone number, and passes the information on to law enforcement.

Perverted Justice was started in 2002 by Xavier Von Erck of Portland Oregon, who got the idea after watching men attempt to woo young girls in chatrooms in Oregon. Von Erck says that PeeJ is a computer watchdog agency that works closely with law enforcement. During the ‘To Catch a Predator’ stings put on by Dateline NBC, Perverted Justice was actually temporarily deputized by law enforcement, since some of the operation was required by law to have been carried out by members of law enforcement.

Von Erck goes on to say that “The media likes to use the term vigilante because it gets attention, but we don’t consider ourselves vigilantes. We cultivate cooperation with police and work within the law to get justice, not outside of the law.”

Perverted Justice’s volunteers act as bait in chatrooms where children and minors can often be found. The profiles the volunteers set up have youthful sounding nicknames and often pictures of children. The volunteers do not initiate contact with the men, but instead wait for the men to first come to them. They refuse to act on tips from internet users, to avoid the risk that someone might use the website for purposes of revenge.

If a man starts chatting with the volunteer and turns the conversation toward sex, the volunteer attempts to obtain identifying information from the man; information such as a telephone number so that a “meeting can be arranged”.

In years past, the chatlog and details would then be published on Perverted Justice’s website. However, beginning in 2003, the organization began its “Information First” program, in which interested police departments could contact Perverted Justice, and any busts made within the jurisdiction of that department would be sent to them without having been posted to the website.

In the early days, PeeJ did not initiate contact with the police, due to the difficulty of prosecuting online criminals in a court of law. Because the law has evolved in such a way that law enforcement now CAN and regularly DOES prosecute online criminals, PeeJ has switched to a policy of cold calling local police with the information they obtained. If a one of the government agencies is interested (police, FBI, military CID, etc.) then the chatlog and other information is not posted to the site until after a conviction has been reached.

To date, Perverted Justice has been responsible for over 100 convictions of online predators. Some of those convictions were witnessed by television-watching Americans, glued to their T.V. screens during the airing of Dateline NBC’s To Catch a Predator series. One of these “public convictions” was a rabbi, who entered a home with the intention of having sexual relations with a minor boy. The “candid-camera” photograph of this rabbi as he was caught by Dateline NBC is posted on my website, which is dedicated to keeping kids safe online.

My website is interactive and includes a place for parents, educators, and interested parties to post methods of keeping kids safe online, as well as a message board where people can chat about online safety and what can be done. I have a page that shows Internet Safety in the news, as well as a page dedicated to educating parents on what can be done to “keep your kid safe on the internet”. Everyone is welcome.