Sustained Outrage

Updating media rules for courts

Interesting read in today’s Boston Globe about efforts by Massachusetts’ high court to modernize its rules governing media in the courtroom.

While courts in Massachusetts currently allow only two cameras in a legal proceeding — one for television broadcasts, one for print media — the new rules propose allowing a third for web outlets.

The article continues:

The court is also seeking to strike a balance between journalism in the 21st century and security concerns in criminal trials that have already led to a ban of cellphones, especially those with cameras, in courthouses statewide.

Even with the new rules, judges still have the authority to ban cameras in certain circumstances. Also, journalists would still be barred from recording jurors at all times during a trial, whether it is a civil or criminal matter.

The rules would allow journalists to use laptop computers and other electronic devices while court is in session, provided it is not disruptive.

Before a person can head into a courtroom with a camera, they must first register with the court’s Public Information Office and also be required to show they qualify as journalists under a new definition worked out by a special media-court panel.

In a summary released yesterday, the court said “the news media would be defined as those who are regularly engaged in the reporting and publishing of news or information about matters of public interest.’’

Ah, “disruptive.” It’s all in the eye of the beholder, I guess. Or up to the person wearing the black robe.