Press and Media Access to the Criminal Courtroom

Press and Media Access to the Criminal Courtroom

Press and Media Access to the Criminal Courtroom

Press and Media Access to the Criminal Courtroom

Synopsis

"To what extent should media coverage of criminal court proceedings be permitted? The central issue is how to strike a balance between the public's right to information and the individual's right to privacy. Freedman reviews the underlying legal principles and constitutional issues and describes important case law. He analyzes situations in which photographing, broadcasting, and televising in the courtroom are currently allowed and examines the relationship between the presence of media equipment during criminal trials and the actions of trial lawyers. The issue of media coverage as it relates to civil trials is also addressed, and British practices regarding press and media coverage of court proceedings are offered for comparison." Legal Information Alert

Excerpt

A quarter century ago I authored an important article titled News Media Coverage of Criminal Cases and the Right to a Fair Trial, which appeared in volume 40 of the Nebraska Law Review (1961). the title is somewhat anachronistic because in today's economy the press and media are not necessarily concerned with "news" but with "entertainment." the accused's right to a-speedy and fair criminal trial, for example, is therefore less of a shibboleth of the press and media today; it is only incidental to the "entertainment" that is being sold under the guise of presenting the "news" to the American public. Whether the changing concept of press and media merits the same protection as is generally afforded the "news" is an open question. Yet the unanswered question persists, unless we create a new concept of "news-entertainment" which is more consonant with reality.

Nevertheless, it is important that the accused's rights to a speedy and fair trial be guaranteed; and the press and media are indeed the bulwarks against those forces that would preclude such guarantees. the speedy trial usually means a fair trial, and a fair trial presumes a speedy trial. Giving the press and media access to the criminal courtroom, whether for news or for entertainment or for both--means that someone may be sufficiently concerned about protecting these basic constitutional rights alongside the protection afforded the press and media under the First Amendment.

Barring radio, television, and newspaper coverages from the crimi-

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