As part of the Citizen Media Law Project's legal guide series on documenting public proceedings and events, today we published a guide to Live-Blogging and Tweeting from Court. Over the past year, we've published guides addressing how to stay out of legal trouble while documenting activities at polling places and covering the Presidential Inauguration, as well as a series of videos on newsgathering and privacy. Today's installment in the series looks at the impact of new media on one of our most tradition-bound institutions: the courts.
The question of who is a journalist - and by extension, what is journalism -- has come into sharp relief in the context of media coverage of public events, including access to and reporting at court proceedings, election events, conferences, sporting events, and breaking news. A critical issue for coverage of these public events is, of course, access to the events in the first place. But once you are in, what tools can you use to supplement your reporting?
As we've noted on our blog many times, the popularity of Twitter and live-blogging has introduced a new dimension into a journalist's coverage of court proceedings. The use of these real-time communications technologies has been met with a mixture of both acceptance and criticism from judges and lawyers. While some judges allow electronic devices in their courtrooms, many others don't. In fact, some local rules prohibit the use of electronic devices anywhere within the courthouse!
To help folks navigate these issues, we've written a guide chock full of practical advice on how to avoid legal trouble if you intend to provide live coverage from inside a courthouse. To supplement the guide, CMLP staff also conducted interviews with journalists and bloggers with experience live-blogging or tweeting from court and wrote up summaries detailing their successes and failures.