In all my years as a student, class was stopped and TVs were wheeled in for two news events: the O.J. Simpson verdict and 9/11.

I was in third grade in 1995, and I didn’t understand what was happening; I’d somehow been shielded from the coverage of the trial. (Nickelodeon, thankfully, didn’t have any O.J. specials.)

On the other hand, my teacher, Mrs. Marston, had clearly been following the legal drama. Hunched over in her swivel chair and blowing on her massive mug of hazelnut coffee, she was absolutely riveted as the jury forewoman declared Simpson not guilty on all counts.

Our third grade class in Belmont, Massachusetts, was joined by roughly 150 million Americans who tuned in that day. As Frankie Bailey, a professor of criminal justice at SUNY-Albany, writes, the verdict “marked the culmination of 16 months of wall-to-wall, prime-time television coverage.”

As much as O.J. Simpson’s legal saga is a story of race, class and the criminal justice system, it’s also a story about the media. Bailey explains how the Simpson trial was a harbinger of things to come, with the lines between news and entertainment becoming increasingly blurred.

This week we also liked stories about the colorful Sikh festival of Baisakhi, the emerging threat of the synthetic opioid nitazene, and how juries are selected for high-profile trials such as President Trump’s, which starts on Monday.

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Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

O.J. Simpson shows the jury a pair of gloves, similar to those found near the crime scene, during his trial in Los Angeles in 1995. POO/AFP via Getty Images

Has the media learned anything since the O.J. Simpson trial?

Frankie Bailey, University at Albany, State University of New York

Since the ‘trial of the century,’ the lines between news and entertainment have become increasingly blurred.

Workers attempt to repair a water main break in Jackson, Miss. Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The South’s aging water infrastructure is getting pounded by climate change – fixing it is also a struggle

Jonathan Fisk, Auburn University; John C. Morris, Auburn University; Megan E. Heim LaFrombois, Auburn University

Extreme downpours and droughts, both fueled by rising global temperatures, are taking a toll on water infrastructure. Communities trying to manage the threats face three big challenges.

Debates over LGBTQ+ issues have divided Methodist congregations for years leading up to the current schism. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File

A dramatic schism over social issues? The United Methodist Church has been here before – but this time, America’s religious landscape is far different

Christopher H. Evans, Boston University

The United Methodist Church will hold its General Conference, delayed several years by the pandemic, in April 2024. The meeting comes amid a dramatic divide over LGBTQ+ rights.

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