Media – the new sheriff?

The Knutby murder has resulted in media coverage of gargantuan proportions, as I have written about before. Swedish media has written 7425 articles about the murder to this date, which even surpasses the amount written about Mijajlo Mijailovic, the person who murdered Sweden’s foreign minister Anna Lindh.

Apart from the sheer volume, Swedish media now also gets critized for the way they have covered the story. Jan Guillou, successful writer and former President of Publicistklubben, an association of people in the publishing industry, on Tuesday wrote an article in Dagens Nyheter where he critizes media for possibly influencing the outcome of the trials by taking sides. When media pass their judgement, the pressure is high on courts to go against the public picture and this is a real problem. Guillou urges owners of media to strive for tighter ethical rules, or he predicts politicians will be provoced to limit the freedom of speech.

And this morning I suddenly realize that Guillou was on to something. The last few months, the newspaper placards announcing the news for the Swedish tabloids, and their front pages, have increased their font sizes to the extreme that it is often just one word, like “Gripen” (arrested, about the capture of four fugitives) and “Slutet” (“the end”). This morning as I walked to the office I finally saw what they might have been aiming for. Aftonbladet had just one word on their placard, “Wanted” (yes, wanted, in English) and photos of three other convicts that escaped from prison yesterday. All in the same style as the posters the sheriff put up on the saloon in the western movies. Would be interesting to hear Guillou comment on the fact that there might be a new sheriff in town – media.