I wonder if there's a proper way to reconcile entertainment with realism. There's a lot of media out there that portrays things incorrectly, not (I believe) for any malevolent reasons, but simply because the truth is rather boring. This is a staple of court room drama (watch Legal Eagle!) where things are rarely presented in a realistic light.
I don't have a ton of experience with the trial system (and would thus never want to write it), but I did film several times during my stint in Las Vegas. Court procedures were very dry and seemed almost rehearsed. No one ever appeared to be surprised to hear anything and it was almost like the entire affair was really just a formality. Everyone knew their role and things rarely, if ever, seemed to have hiccups. No one even shouted "objection!," which as a fan of the Ace Attorney series was quite disappointing.
This happens a lot with medical and police procedurals as well. I've personally watched CSI units come out to crime scenes, take a few photos, then leave. They're quite boring to be honest. And don't get me started on anything with hacking involved.
So where do we draw the line? Do we as writers and creators have a responsibility to represent things in an accurate, if somewhat boring, light? What do we risk if the public image of something as determined by what they read and watch is inaccurate? And what if that inaccuracy leads to real-world harm?
If you're familiar with the "CSI Effect" (citation), it's the idea that a lot of people, specifically juries, were overestimating the efficacy and uses of forensic science. After CSI and the rest of the shows in that same vein became popular, people started thinking that DNA tests and other forensics were miracle tests and they, apparently, started discrediting more traditional forms of evidence.
So... where do we draw that line? I'm not sure that I know the answer. I can only say that when I write, I try to research as much as I can. I try to make the story not as reliant on flashy elements. I try to make the things that aren't blatantly fantasy elements (I do write Urban Fantasy) as close to the real thing as I can manage. Sometimes that means researching common and mediocre practices that I usually take for granted.
Do I believe that if I get something wrong in my novel I'll contribute to the downfall of Western society? No. But if I don't have to contribute to people drawing incorrect conclusions, I won't. I guess that's where I fall.
What about you? Do you think the media (not talking news) has a responsibility to portray things accurately? Even at the cost of entertainment?
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.