Turn a trial into a story

Jan 18, 2018

Student | Sawyer Ryan

The current trial process is not exactly something people look forward to getting involved with but with the help of media production, it could be. Improving all production qualities of the process would be beneficial as it would help create more of a story, and people love to hear and often resonate more with stories. Research has found that stories are very effective in passing information and stories that are personal and emotionally compelling engage more of the brain and are remembered better.

Films try to engage an audience and transport them into the story with the help of lighting, costuming, good acting, interesting score, as well as other qualities. Movies have to keep increasing the tension. All of the elements of a good film help the story to continue building that tension. If a scary movie takes out the score and sound effects, it will be infinitely less scary and will not hold the viewer's attention as well as it would with sound and score. Think about this in terms of the trial process. Court scenes in movies are always tense and engaging, but in real life, they can be boring, and the jury members might lose focus at times. A good trial deserves an attentive jury because the fate of the case is in their hands. If elements of media production were brought in to heighten the tension of a case, the jurors might be more intrigued and attentive to all the details, which would make it easier for them to deliberate and make their decision in the end. That is why making the trial process more of a production might benefit the justice system because right now, it is not a very exciting or entertaining experience, but with the help and principles of media production, it could be.

The use of short video clips and even documentary-style videos for things like testimonies would help the arguments be more engaging and interesting. Most people are not familiar with the law, court, and justice system. But essentially every person on Earth has heard a story and most people have watched movies or videos, so why not take the trial proess—which is unfamiliar to the average person—and transform it into something almost everyone is familiar with; storytelling.


Sawyer Ryan, a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Fall 2017 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response being asked how her major, Media Production, could improve the trial process.

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