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Feb 10, 2011

What I've Been Up to in Nevada...

New journal examines media influence on court cases




By Bridget Meade, Reynolds School of Journalism
 
Might social media influence what takes place in the courtroom? Released in January, the first scholarly journal of the Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media takes an in-depth look at this and other questions regarding the courts and media.

“Our hope is that the journal, and the associated conferences that we're having … will spark discussion and raise the profiles of the issues we're dealing with, as well raise the profile of the center,” said Eric Robinson, journal editor and Reynolds Center for Courts and Media deputy director. The center held its first conference in Houston last week in connection with the first issue of the journal.

The first edition of the journal features a critique of an important contemporary court case—the trial of former Enron President Jeff Skilling. Even though social media was in its infancy, the case received heavy coverage in both mass and social media due to Enron’s collapse and the convictions of other Enron executives. Skilling was unsuccessful in his request for a venue change based on the heavy media coverage and after he was convicted, was sentenced to 24 years in prison. His appeal reached the Supreme Court where some of his convictions on some charges were overturned for reasons not having to do with coverage of the case, and sent back to a lower court for review.

Articles in the new journal examine how new social media—from bloggers and Facebook to Twitter—affect the courtroom, libel laws and the First Amendment.

“The biggest question that courtrooms face today is how to deal with new technology,” Robinson said. “Historically, courts have been slow to deal with changes. Some boneheaded decisions will be made in regards to allowing Tweeting and blogging in the courtroom. However, appeal courts will weigh in and it will work itself out.”

Robinson collaborated with Center Director Ben Holden and Assistant Professor Scranton, who teaches visual communication at the Reynolds School. Scranton created the layout and design of the journal, a time-consuming process that presented challenges for the former Newsweek art director.

“The biggest challenge was that this was a new journal and we had to invent the look and feel,” Scranton said. “There are many law journals printed today, mostly very conservative looking ... justified typography, no photography, centered alignment. We wanted a design that was a cross between existing law journals and what you might see in a magazine or newspaper today.”

The journal will be formally introduced to the public at an event in March.

1 comments :

Houston Web Design said...

“The biggest question that courtrooms face today is how to deal with new technology,” Robinson said. “Historically, courts have been slow to deal with changes. Some boneheaded decisions will be made in regards to allowing Tweeting and blogging in the courtroom. However, appeal courts will weigh in and it will work itself out.”

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