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Trial by media is a phrase often used in this day and age. But whilst the phrase may be common, the effects are just as devastating to those in the sights of journalists, social media and the many other outlets. No comer of the world is immune to the furore of hysteria whipped up by news outlets, from India to the United States, and of course, in the heart of Europe. The brntal origins of the te1m " witch-hunt', whereby individuals accused of being a witch where often executed with little or no oppo11unity to defend themselves with reason, has been modernised for today's society through mass publicity. Typically speaking, once the media sets their sights on you or a group of persons, it is extremely difficult to offer counter-arguments. The power of the media is not lost on governments, businesses, and of course, prosecution agencies. When the police and prosecutors snuggle to find their ' silver bullet' on a key suspect or case, they often tum to the press to assist them. What can innocently appear initially to be providing the public with relevant info1mation they are entitled to, can ve1y quickly become a sinister campaign of condemnation and u-ial by media. 2 A case in point has developed rather suddenly in Antwerp, Belgium, where two local journalists, namely Joris Van Der Aa and Patrick Lefelon, have seemingly embarked upon a crusade to condemn a local man of being a criminal mastermind of a brutal international organised crime ring. They state, repeatedly and passionately, that local man Nordin El H. is the key crime lord who is known in the underworld as “NWA”. But how do they know this? The case against Nordin El H. has not gone to trial, and the man himself denies being involved in these crimes and states to have no knowledge of “NWA”, yet these two journalists write this crucial detail as unequivocal fact. It is telling that one of these journalists is usually the first to reveal new and sensitive information regarding the case of Nordin El H., information only known to police and prosecutors alike. The information is fed to these journalists is likely only to be self-serving to the authorities who, until using media, seemingly had no real traction against this individual other than he was given a non-custodial sentence for a minor drug offence several years ago. Both journalists have written, or contributed to, books on drug-rings and Antwerp “mafias”, and therefore seem to be the perfect candidates for police to drip-feed information to. How does a man, who’s entire case revolves around the question as to whether he is or isn’t “NWA”, expect to receive a fair trial if the news outlets have already ‘tried’ the evidence and seemingly convicted him? The self-serving, ugly alliance between authorities and journalists will continue to deprive society of justice by serving particular agendas and distorting reality. Whilst journalists who fancy themselves as detectives willing to carry out the bidding of prosecution agencies exist, the public will continue to be herded like cattle in an Orwellian fashion unable to see the wood from the trees.
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