Criminal justice system agencies, such as the courts, legislatures, and police have issued laws, rules, guidelines, and regulations that must be followed for media productions to be legally valid, particularly before the courts. These laws determine what types of camera movements, shots, angles, and editing are permitted. As a matter of illustration. California law contains extensive regulations dealing with the accepted ways of videotaping a deposition.[1] It clearly establishes the accepted procedures that must be followed, such as instructions to the video operator not to “distort the appearance or the demeanor of participants in the deposition by the use of camera or sound recording techniques.” For instance, the camera must show the witness’s face and upper body (medium close up), the backgrounds must be simple, such as a neutral gray backdrop, or a simple textured backdrop. The lightings may not focus directly on the witness’ eyes. The camera may not move (Tanger, 2003). California law also regulates the possibility of offering parts of a deposition as evidence in trials.

Similarly, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has adopted regulations on crime scene photogr aphy. These regulations include a series of niles dealing with camera movement, lighting, and camera angles so that the photographs may be admitted in court.

For the videotaping of crime scenes, the FBI counsels that the videographer '‘should describe on tape each room and view of the crime scene.” According to the FBI, “common errors committed when videotaping a crime scene include panning the camera rapidly, poor focusing and lighting and improper use of the zoom feature of the cameras.”

Courts have also contributed to the development and adoption of rules. For example, courts have invalidated day-in-the-life videos that show scenes filmed dining more than a single day or which are too one-sided, giving the impression to jurors that the plaintiff is constantly in pain or that she is constantly suffering mental anguish.

Lawyers and criminal justice agents engaged in the production of media texts have described their approach to making audiovisual texts in the literature, which contributes to the creation of standard practices in the field (MacArthy, 2007).

Sentencing videos should avoid using dramatic voice-over narrations, flashy editing tricks overbearing or melodramatic music, gratuitous scenes of crying loved ones, pointless inclusion of children, cheesy re-enactments, and so forth. This kind of overblow content distracts from the message of the film and wrecks credibility (Passon, 2010).

This combination of laws, guidelines, regulations, and standard practices has resulted in a film language that is unique to the legal arena.


The rapid expansion of global conununications media and visual culture in this digital era has shaken the structure of societies globally and has radically altered the dissemination and production of information and knowledge (Godlfarb, 2002). This revolution is fundamentally transforming our notions of education and learning. At the same time, it is altering the way we apprehend reality. It has changed the means people, particularly those who have grown up in this paradigm, use to communicate with one another, the concepts they form, and the structure of their thought (Lacy, 1982).

Media literacy places audiovisual languages at the forefront of classroom teaching and not as mere supplements to traditional classroom and print-based education (Godlfarb, 2002).8 Media literacy recognizes the unique advantages that audiovisual media have as powerfill transforming tools. When used as a tool in the classroom, the power of audiovisual media enables a level of interactivity and critical thinking not seen in traditional schooling (Goldfarb, 2002). Media literacy has been conceptualized as the '‘the process of critically analyzing and learning to create one’s own messages - in print, audio, video, and multimedia, with emphasis on the learning and teaching of these skills through using mass media texts” (Hobbs, 1998). It includes the cognitive and affective processes involved in viewing and producing popular culture and other media texts. A media literate person is skillfill in critically analyzing and creating popular cultur e stories and other media messages, examining media codes and conventions, identifying and criticizing stereotypes, values, and ideologies, and competent to interpret the multiple meanings and messages generated by popular culture and media texts (Keller, 2000).

Although there is a history of media education in Europe and North America that dates back to the end of the Second World War, media education has been at the margins of formal university teaching. Media literacy was developed in primary and secondary schools, as well as in vocational schools. In the last two decades, authors have been advocating for the development of media literacy across the university curriculum (Hobbs, 1998), and as part of a plan that is sensitive to the diverse concerns, knowledge, and experiences of students (Goldfarb, 2002). Just as education was transformed with the progr ess from oral to print literacy and book culture, the crurent technical revolution requires a radical transformation of education to give room to new literacies, curricula, and teaching goals (Keller, 2000). However, at the university setting, media literacy was relegated to some communications or film stirdies programs. It has not yet entered the curriculum in the majority of disciplines.

Wisual Pedagogy rejects the two predominant views—the Frankfurter school and Postmodernism— about the role of visual media in society. The Frankfurter School (Adorno, Horkheimer, Habermas References) considers popular culture and the mass media that produces it as one of the means of oppression by the power elites. The postmodernist view shifts responsibility from the makers and distributors of popular culture to the users who supposedly are able to critically read it and pick from it what they want and need for their social emancipation and subcultural identification. Visual Pedagogy shows that the use of media can have emancipatory effects in the short inn as well as recuperative effects in the long inn. Goldfarb (2002) posits that learning to critically read media texts is insufficient to take the ideological sting out of the message, but rejecting the use of media altogether is to deprive students of fundamental tools to apprehend the world surrounding them and to transform and affect it.

  • [1] ’California Civil Code, Section 2025. 2 ‘California Civil Code, Section 2025. 3 RCMP, Crime Scene Photography, available online at http://www.rcmp-leaming.oig/docs/ecddl004. htm.
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