The New Hampshire Magazine devoted a huge amount of talent, energy and space to the Pamela Smart case for its November issue. InDepthNH.org’s Nancy West researched and wrote two of the articles. Below find New Hampshire Magazine editor Rick Broussard’s introduction and links to the full series. If you’re quick, you can still find print copies on newsstands around the state.
“Pam Smart?” replied my young friend. “I know the name, but I don’t know why.” It took only a few words to freshen his memory
“It’s not been that long,” I think to myself. “Has it?” Then I realize that the Millennial generation was just getting around to being born when one of New Hampshire’s most salacious murder trials became, arguably, the biggest “media circus” of the late 20th century.
I’d lived in the state for a few years when the story became front-page news (and remained in the headlines for months). Crime stories don’t have quite the fascination for me that’s required to keep TV shows like “CSI” high on Nielsen ratings, but I paid enough attention to formulate my own verdict along the way — guilty — and to be shocked when I learned that many people disagreed with me.
Seems they still do. A current petition addressed to the NH Executive Council on Change.org is titled, “Free the Wrongly Convicted Pamela Smart.” As of the writing of this note in early October, 2,078 had signed up.
Since the 1990s, with the proliferation of the internet and the 24-hour cable news shows, public obsessions over spectacular crimes and convictions (or vindications, however technical) have become so common that they seem like mere punctuation marks in the story of our troubled world.
Along the way, we’ve also grown more accustomed to these “split-screen” views of issues, where two people of apparent good will and reasonable intelligence can seem to be seeing two entirely different worlds through their TVs and computer screens. (see full Rick Broussard introduction here)
Some readers were surprised and not all were happy that Pamela Smart was the November cover story. Click on each of the following links for the full New Hampshire Magazine project: