Courtroom broadcasting

Adam Wagner on UK Human Rights Blog takes up the perennial question of whether courtroom proceedings should be broadcast. Some extracts from his blogpost:

Should justice be televised?


The head of Sky News has argued in a new Guardian article that justice must be televised as allowing TV cameras in court would help restore public faith in criminal proceedings.

The usual arguments in support are:

  1. Television opens the court to public scrutiny
  2. Televised hearings can educate the public about what happens in the justice system
  3. Cameras have no negative impact on trials, according to U.S. research
  4. The public have a right to see justice done, and the only proper way this can be accomplished is to allow them access to hearings through their TV sets

And the arguments against:

  1. Televised justice leads to soundbites and sensationalism, and edited highlights of a case lose the subtlety of legal argument
  2. Television fosters disrespect for the court
  3. Cameras pervert the trial process as juries become star struck and lawyers grandstand
  4. Victims and witnesses are intimidated an can be less safe as a result. …
  5. The Lawtube age
    The debate over cameras in court is as old as camera technology itself, but in the age of YouTube, 24-hour news and the iPlayer, it should be reopened. John Ryley is well placed to understand the power of TV coverage and expert editing, but will also know the dangers of sensationalising stories and issues. … There are good arguments for limiting such access, but these decisions should be taken from an informed perspective after testing the real effect which TV cameras would have on our judicial system. … It is often said that justice should not just be done, but should be seen to be done. As things stand, justice is very rarely seen and as a result our justice system continues to be poorly understood. Allowing TV cameras into court could provide the oxygen needed to ensure better and more interesting public access to the legal system.

Read more here. My earlier posts on the issue are here, here and here.

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