Murder Suspect Caught

March 31, 2009 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I hope Marvin Eduardo Carias is the man who killed Nathan Johns. If he is, then the Lincoln Police Department has taken a murderer off the streets. It sounds, however, like the case is far from closed. We’ll have to wait and see how the case evolves.

In the article, I noticed one of my little pet peeves. The article says

Just before 11 p.m., police read [Carias] his Miranda rights, and he invoked them, refusing to talk, according to the affidavit for his arrest.

It may seem trivial to most of you, but I don’t like the use of the word “refusing” in that sentence. It makes the act of invoking a fundamental right sound obstinate, rather than admirable. Why not “declining” or “choosing not” instead? If you watch the media closely, you will see some interesting word selection patterns, of which this is just one example. Most of it is the sort of unconscious word selection bias we all display in our daily lives. Trouble is, one reporter’s word choice affects countless individuals’ perceptions of a story. I would like to see media organizations make a conscious effort not to portray the invocation of rights as an act of rebellion or obstinance. Rather, I would like to see a more active celebration of those rights. The legal system is far from perfect. Knowing and using your rights could very well spare you or someone you know a heap of trouble.

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The Comments

hbrogan57 March 31, 2009 at 3:21pm

Here we STILL see that the journal star STILL won’t allow comments on stories like this due to this reason…..

“Publishing opinions about the guilt, innocence or character of the accused in open criminal cases can affect that person’s constitutional right to a fair trial. For that reason, JournalStar.com has chosen not to accept user comments on this story.”

Seems strange that other newspaper web sites across the country allow users to post comments and ONLY regulate them due to language misuse.  I often wonder WHEN things with these “journalists” will catch up with the rest of the country.

Seems that they certainly are ready with their OWN comments when needed doesn’t it?

Mr. Wilson March 31, 2009 at 3:48pm

Personally, I support the LJS’s decision. There’s very little to be gained and a lot to lose (from their perspective) by allowing the unwashed masses to comment on most stories about criminal cases. I exercise a similar policy here, but I go about it a much different way: I simply refrain from posting about most criminal cases. The LJS doesn’t have that option.

The LJS didn’t always have that policy. I may be wrong, but I think we might be able to thank Ricky Turco for it. It seems like the policy began shortly after that mess in 2007. I recall several “uncivil” comments left on journalstar.com in the wake of that situation.

Gene March 31, 2009 at 4:13pm

We have Ricky Turco to thank for a bunch of Journal Star-related things. I think someone here coined it, “The Lincoln Turco Star.”

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