Covering the Courts: A Handbook for Journalists / Edition 2

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Covering the Courts fills a great need in the journalism field that the extensive coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial exposed in all forms of media. This handbook provides a guide for those journalists covering the courts in America by detailing the knowledge and techniques necessary to report on the courts effectively and responsibly. The author presents an overview of the judicial system, focusing on the unavoidable fair trial/free press conflicts and criminal procedure, so that journalists can gain the necessary perspective for accurate coverage, since criminal cases are estimated to make up as much as one half of typical news coverage in newspapers and on television. Because of this, an in-depth description of the process of covering all aspects of criminal trials is included, as well as specific suggestions for improving coverage. In addition, the author deals with civil cases, the crucial matter of courtroom cameras, and also provides tips and suggestions from many working journalists. The author also provides a glossary of legal terms designed for journalists, and appendices that include a journalistic code of ethics, judicial and bar canons, and standards and samples of guidelines for the use of cameras in the courts.

Author Biography: S.L. Alexander is Assistant Professor of Communications at Loyola University in New Orleans and a former television producer and reporter, and newspaper editor.

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Editorial Reviews

In light of the poor coverage of high-profile trials of the past few years, former journalist Alexander (communications law, Loyala U., New Orleans) offers advice on responsible reporting for both print and broadcast media. First she overviews the judicial system and discusses the unavoidable conflict between the notions of fair trial and free press. Then she details criminal procedure to help reporters put events into a larger perspective. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
A must-read for any reporter whose beat might include the courts. Alexander methodically steps the reader through the processes in clear, concise style. Starting with an overview of the fair trial/free press conflict built into the First and Sixth amendments, she uses current examples from high-profile trials to illustrate how the courts and media have collided. Alexander's book is comprehensive without being overwhelming for the journalist who needs to learn about this field.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742520219
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Edition description: 2nd Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

S. L. Alexander is a journalist and coordinator of communications law at Loyola University, New Orleans.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures
1 Introduction 1
2 The Judicial System 11
Free Press/Fair Trial
Cameras in Courts
3 Criminal Procedure 21
The Pre-Trial Process
The Trial
Post-Trial Proceedings
4 Civil Procedure 39
The Civil Trial
Federal Courts and Special Court Proceedings
5 Criminal Cases: Pre-Trial Coverage 45
Access to Records
Grand Jury Proceedings
Hearings and Plea Bargains
6 Criminal Cases: The Trial 55
Who's Who in the Courtroom
Trial Procedure
7 Criminal Cases: Post-Trial Activity 71
8 Civil Cases 77
9 Cameras in Courtrooms 85
Development of Courtroom Cameras
Guidelines for Courtroom Cameras
10 Covering the Courts 93
Working with Lawyers
Working with Judges
Enterprise Stories
App. A Codes of Ethics 111
App. B Canons, Standards, and Rules 121
App. C Guidelines for Coverage 135
Glossary 139
Selected Bibliography 157
Index 169
About the Author 173
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