GT Writing Task 2 / Essay Sample # 202
You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic:
In some countries, criminal trials are shown to the public on television. What could be the possible reasons for that? Do the advantages of this trend outweigh the disadvantages?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
Write at least 250 words.
In some parts of the world, broadcasting is permitted in the courtrooms. The reason why they introduce televised trials is to make citizens familiar with the legal system. However, I think, although this places the legal system at some disadvantages, making trials public can reap considerable benefits to democracy.
To begin with, there are several reasons behind the criminal trials to put live on television. The major portion of citizens has no personal experience with the legal system. So the portrayal of justice on electronic media can promote the individual’s understanding of the criminal trial proceedings. A very good example here is Charles Schumer, a senator of the United States of America. He argued, “Courts are an important part of our government, and the more our government institutions are shown to the public, the more dignified they become, and the more the public comes to understand them”.
However, allowing trials to be televised can exert some adverse effects on the judicial system. It can distort the truth-seeking process of the criminal justice system. To illustrate, a witness can be influenced by watching a trial on media and hearing other witnesses give evidence before him or her. In fact, many witnesses may fail to separate what they know personally from what they have gathered from television. In consequence, the quest for the truth can be hampered, which in turn leads to injustice.
Having said that, the trials to be shown on TV have an added advantage to our democracy. Televising the trial ensures transparency, accountability, public understanding, and openness as well. This openness allows citizens to discuss, criticize, endorse, castigate or applaud the conduct of the criminal proceedings. Such free debate about the conduct of criminal proceedings encourages accessibility, impartiality, effectiveness, thus ensuring rule of law and justice that is the mainstay of our democracy. Thus, the televising trial is the advance on the road to democracy.
In conclusion, televising criminal trials confer both advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, however, the drawbacks of an open televised trial are eclipsed by its benefits in the sense that it reflects the core values of democracy.