Essay: The Dangers of Docudrama

Nearly 50 million Americans last week watched at least portions of a five- hour, two-part television movie called The Atlanta Child Murders. The CBS production restaged, in summary form, the trial of Wayne Williams, who was convicted in 1982 of murdering two young blacks after a nine-week proceeding in a courtroom that held, at most, 175 spectators. In law, the verdict of the jurors (later affirmed by the Georgia Supreme Court) was definitive. But in the minds of much of the public, the reality of what happened in Atlanta may more likely be what they saw enacted last week on TV....

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