Judges & Journalists Clash Over Tweets | Print |
Written by Industry News Services   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 19:18

by Associated Press

Getting news from a big trial once took days, moving at the speed of a carrier pigeon or an express pony. The telegraph and telephone cut that time dramatically, as did live television broadcasts.

Now comes Twitter with more changes, breaking up courtroom journalism into bite-size reports that take shape as fast as a reporter can tap 140 characters into a smartphone. But the micro-blogging site is increasingly putting reporters on a collision course with judges who fear it could threaten a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

The tension was highlighted recently by a Chicago court’s decision to ban anyone from tweeting or using other social media at the upcoming trial of a man accused of killing Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s family. Reporters and their advocates insist the practice is essential to providing a play-by-play for the public as justice unfolds.

“We’re troubled by this ban,” said Ed Yohnka, Chicago spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union. Tweeting and social media are “merely the 21st century version of what reporters have always done — gather information and disseminate it.”

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