Media and the Lost Victim
By Dean J. Smart
Trying to promote a book through the media is very difficult. Trying to promote a memoir that revolves around murder isn’t easy either, even if the murder and the trial for the crime are highly publicized. But for some strange reason the criminals and killers are able to obtain press coverage whenever they like, even on huge national outlets. This fact began to really annoy and aggravate me until I decided to fight back.
Let me briefly review the case involving my brother’s murder so that the reader can understand my frustration. In 1990 my brother Gregg was brutally killed as he entered his condo on May first. His wife Pam Smart was later found guilty for conspiracy to the murder, she was a teacher and was having an affair with one of her students, a fifteen year old, who pulled the trigger after months of being manipulated by Pam to do it. The case was huge and easily the biggest news story nationwide at the time. The trial was actually the first televised trial in America. The focus of the trial and murder and the news coverage always revolved around Pam, it was like she was a celebrity, and my family and I found it very difficult to deal with. We felt and still feel that Gregg should have been the focus, not the criminals. We felt he was forgotten by a world that seemed to only be fascinated with the crime and the criminals. Gregg was the lost victim as far as the media was concerned.
In the twenty years that have followed the trial, it seems that every year or so we are reminded of the crime and the trial through the media, which reopens the old scars that have not yet heeled. It is usually Pam whining on the news that she is innocent and that she deserves to be freed from prison. For years we didn’t comment we just let her have her say. Until recently as my father fell ill with cancer and passed away. Things changed a few years before that, when the murderer, Pam’s student and lover was trying to get paroled early. When I read through the murderer’s plea to the judge I found myself extremely angered as he mentioned himself over eighty times and mentioned Gregg, the man he killed, just three times. So, I wrote a speech to be delivered at his hearing. In the speech I lashed out at the murderer and his selfishness and pointed out that he spelled the victims name wrong in his letter and that he mentioned himself and his good deeds over eighty times and the victim just three times. From that moment on I decided to fight for Gregg and lash out every time one of the criminals received any media coverage.
Soon after Pam appeared on Good Morning America proclaiming her innocence again and my father and I went to the media to rebut her, although we were never contacted by the program. Then she appeared on The Oprah show, and after a long negotiation with the show’s producers I was not allowed to appear, they were just going to run my comment on the screen at the end of the show. I found this unbelievable, that in both cases the media decided to promote the killers and made little to no mention of the victim or his family. Something is wrong with media in this aspect. There should be no biased reporting especially in regard to convicted murders. How does an interview with a convicted killer make for a good morning in America? How can Oprah, who usually stands up for victims, stand by and promote a criminal without giving the victims family a fair shot at rebuttal. I don’t understand and I don’t believe I ever will, until things change and the media decides to remember the victims not just the criminals, it’s the right thing to do after all.
As my memoir, which is remembrance of Gregg approaches its release date, I wonder if any of the big media outlets will decide to promote the right side of the story or if they will stay with what they have always done and that is to forget the lost victim and choose to promote the crime and its sensationalism. I’ll just keep hoping and waiting.
About the author:
Dean J. Smart graduated from the University of New Hampshire’s writing program with a bachelor’s degree in English. While at UNH Dean studied under Pulitzer Prize winning poet and US Poet Laureate Charles Simic. Dean resides in a small New England town with his wife and family. A writer and poet, Dean is currently writing the sequel to Skylights and Screen Doors and is putting the final touches on a book of poetry. To learn more, please visit: www.skylightsandscreendoors.com
About the book:
It Was a Crime that Shocked The Nation.
On May 1, 1990 Gregg Smart, was gunned down in his home in Derry, New Hampshire. On March 4, 1991 his wife Pamela Smart was placed on trial for accomplice to murder. The sensational aspects of the case—that Pamela was a teacher who had been having an affair with one of the perpetrators of the crime, her 15-year old student William Flynn—would spark a media frenzy that spawned several books and two movies.
Now for the first time, Gregg’s brother Dean reveals the personal side of the tragedy—about growing up with a brother he idolized, and the true story of the events that led up to that tragic night. You’ll see the first televised trial in American history through the authors eyes—from the circus atmosphere in front of the courthouse, to the emotional testimony of witnesses, to the closing arguments and sentencing. A poignant memoir, Skylights and Screen Doors is an affecting story of innocence lost and a brother remembered—and of the trial that shocked the nation.
To learn more, please visit: http://skylightsandscreendoors.com/