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From the Winter 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 13. Journalists and news organizations should do…

From the Winter 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 13.

Journalists and news organizations should do more to gain access to courts.

They should educate judges, lawmakers and attorneys about how cameras work. (As a television news director, I often spoke to Bar Association gatherings and judicial conferences to help judges understand that we, as journalists, are serious about our role and are protective of their judicial duty.) After covering a hearing or trial, they should solicit and be responsive to concerns from judges and lawyers involved in proceedings.

When a judge does grant permission for camera and audio coverage, journalists should strictly follow the rules of the court.

Photographers and technicians should be in position in plenty of time to make their equipment and themselves as unobtrusive as possible.

News organizations should live up to the rule in many states requiring 48-hour prior notification that a journalist intends to cover a trial or a hearing.

Journalists must be knowledgeable of court rules and protocols. They should not air pictures or use audio of jurors when restricted by guidelines, and they should not broadcast the identities of witnesses the court orders to be protected. — Al Tompkins