Juror Number Six (2008) -- a short documentary on the Web -- explores the media, race, and the criminal justice system. Dozens of clips from television news, drama, and reality programs vividly illustrate how media shapes our perceptions (and jurors' perceptions) of crime and criminals. Crime has been going down, and yet crime is portrayed much, much more. Fear sells.
While the news scares viewers, dramas might actually comfort us. On "Law and Order," for instance (and I've happily watched hundreds of hours of it!), we see far more African American judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys than are present in most communities. Defendants all seem to have counsel right away, and generally very sharp counsel. And so, the film suggests, we are led to believe that the system is much fairer than it actually is.
The documentary's producer lists impressive partners:
- The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School
- The Center for Communications and Community at UCLA
- The Center for Justice in Capital Cases at DePaul University, College of Law
- The Center on the Media, Crime and Justice at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice
- The Center on Race, Crime and Justice at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
- The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School
- The Department of Journalism at San Francisco State University
- The Division of Cinema-Television at Southern Methodist University
- USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism
- The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University
- The Media and Culture Program in Bentley College’s English Department