Op-ed on Tweeting in Courtrooms

Pennsylvania State University **We aren't endorsed by this school
COMM 403
Oct 25, 2023
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Monique Morris COMM 403 Op-ed on Tweeting in Courtrooms With the increasing popularity and live blogging, journalism coverage has been introduced to a new dimension of reporting. In this new dimension, journalism coverage of court proceedings has also become drastically altered as a result. With the use of real-time communications available from outlets like Twitter, journalists have been able to provide information and content in real-time to vast audiences. Often, in some legal proceedings, journalists have even resorted to live tweeting or tweeting in real-time during actual hearings. This, of course, has been met with both acceptance and criticism from judges and lawyers alike. According to the Digital Media Law Project, there isn't any concrete law that necessarily forbids the use of Twitter or live tweeting in a courtroom in the United States (DMLP, 2022). On this site, their overview page only mentions that local rules of the courthouse and or jurisdiction have the power to dictate whether the use of Twitter and live tweeting is acceptable in a particular space. To further elaborate on this topic, this site even provides a guideline for tweeting and live blogging from the court. In this short list of guidelines, this site mentions the importance of: 1. Checking the local rules of the courthouse and/or jurisdiction in question. 2. Checking the court's standing orders, free-standing electronic device policies, and the judge's individual preferences. 3. Contacting the judge or judge staff in regard to being able to use Twitter to live tweet during a court proceeding. (DMLP, 2022) In all these rules, the DMLP stresses the importance of being granted access to the use of Twitter and other forms of technology to tweet or live blog a court hearing. This site typically recommends that permission to tweet can and should be granted on the nature and public benefit. Aside from this, the act of tweeting should be granted if the content within a tweet can be of potential public interest in a specific case. In some cases, the act of tweeting may provide the audience with vital information about a topic and the public may benefit from the dissemination of this information. I think that in some cases, tweeting from the courtroom can be beneficial in relaying crucial and important information to the masses. In many instances, tweets from the courtroom can allow the public to make well-informed decisions about important topics and cases that occur within their society and around the world. A good example of tweeting from the courtroom being beneficial can be seen in the trial of Mark Zuckerberg regarding a $2 billion intellectual property lawsuit back in 2017. In a piece for the NY Times, writer Mike Isaac speaks about how having access to Twitter and live tweeting allowed him to relay critical information regarding this issue to mass audiences. In his report on live tweeting from a federal courthouse, Isaac mentions how being granted access to Twitter during this hearing allowed him to provide an outside perspective to this high-profile witness and allow audiences to hear about how this hearing may affect Facebook in the future. Being that Facebook is a large media platform utilized by millions around the world, Isaac argued that the public had the right to know about this court hearing and the potential threat that this lawsuit may pose to the future of both Facebook and its users (NY Times, 2017). In this example, it is evident that in terms of dealing with the public interest, live tweeting from a courtroom may be necessary and crucial when it pertains to certain topics. If the issues covered in a hearing regard the public, specifically their interest, their media presence, or their safety, then live tweeting may
be necessary. Without Twitter and being granted access to live-tweeting, journalists wouldn't be able to supply the public with knowledge that may affect their lives socially, economically, or politically. Work Cited DMLP. (2023, September 10). Digital Media Law Project . Live-Blogging and Tweeting from Court | Digital Media Law Project. https://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/live-blogging-and- tweeting-from-court Isaac, M. (2017, January 24). A Trial and a Twitterstorm: On live-tweeting from a federal courthouse . The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/24/insider/a-trial- and-a-twitterstorm-on-live-tweeting-from-a-federal-courthouse.html
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