Fair and Unbalanced: The Tale of Two Trials



Since March 21st reporters representing the cream of American journalism have been camped out in the Bay Area covering two high profile trials. In an Oakland courtroom two men are accused of being involved in three murders, including that of Chauncey Bailey, a journalist who was writing a story about Your Black Muslim Bakery. In San Francisco, baseball home run king Barry Bonds is accused of telling a federal grand jury that he never knowingly took steroids. Aside from the fact that both trials are taking place, and all the defendants are African American, there is a disparity in how these cases are being treated by the media, both local and national.

The Bailey trial is being covered by less than a dozen reporters from mostly local media: the Oakland Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, KTVU, American Urban Radio Networks, CBS Radio, NPR, the Bay Guardian, Associated Press and ABC 7 News, several websites and bloggers. Some are there every day, others are not. To be fair there was more media coverage for the first few days of the trial.

According to KCBS reporter Doug Sovern who is covering the Bonds trial, the press list includes, “KCBS, KGO Radio (some of the time), KQED (occasionally), Westwood One, Channels 2 (KTVU), 4, 5, 7, 11, Comcast Sports Net, ESPN, CNN, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, Agency France Presse, the Chronicle (a reporter and a columnist, every day; sometimes two columnists,) The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Bay Area News Group, including the San Jose Mercury News, Reuters, the Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated, a few other bloggers, stringers and people I don't recognize,” Sovern wrote in an e-mail. “I would say that adds up to about 30, plus still photographers. Probably close to 40 in all, plus THREE sketch artists!”

Media experts say the Bailey trial is much more significant when you look at how both cases impact society.

For the complete story, go to the Maynard Institute's web site.