I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
More public venues allowing live blogging, Tweeting — including courts
“In what may be the beginning of a long-term trend which ultimately evolves into full, live courtroom broadcasts, several federal judges have begun to allow live audio streams and real-time blogging from within their courtrooms, and in some instances even in criminal trials,” reads a story in Monday’s Tech Generation Daily.
As the New Mexico state Legislature wrestles with the idea of webcasting its proceedings, debates over technology in formerly tech-free venues are becoming more common.As TG Daily notes:
Many lawyers object to this kind of real-time broadcast believing that the intricacies of the legal system are not something easily understood by those not trained in the legal process, and what might seem to be a particular way to a reasonable, thinking person, may not be that way in a court of law due to the legal requirements of defining something.
That’s a sentiment that’s been expressed recently by New Mexico’s Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, who has been pushing back on the issue of webcasting and live blogging.
In an interview last week about the Independent’s webcasting and live-blogging, Sanchez told KUNM’s Jim Williams, “The bloggers that get on their blog what they think you’re doing when you leave a room…” and complained about a set of polls that appeared during a Feb. 20 live blog from the Senate Rules Committee.
Sanchez told Williams he wanted an official commentary to accompany any webcasting from the Capitol so viewers don’t get the wrong idea about what’s happening.
But there is much disagreement about how much to trust the public with complicated proceedings of the government. CSPAN has been broadcasting live from Congress for 30 years, since 1979. Today, live proceedings are broadcast from the legislatures of 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. There are 27 states that broadcast their proceedings on television as well.
“The more we can do to open the process to the public, the greater the public understanding — the more legitimacy the public system will have in the eyes of the public,” U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten said in an interview with the Associated Press. Maarten recently decided to allow a reporter from The Wichita Eagle to Tweet from his courtroom.
“This is so far removed from cameras and, frankly, cameras are coming too,” Marten said.
As more newspapers stop printing and more Americans get their news on the Internet, media is changing. Video, a tool previously untouched by traditional print media, has been quickly adopted by online journalists and bloggers. But that doesn’t please everyone.
After a U.S. District Judge ruled that it was OK to webcast a hearing involving the Recording Industry Association of America, the group protested, saying the webcasting would threaten its ability to get a fair trial. In response, 14 news organizations filed a brief with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying the webcast was in the public interest.
As TG Daily notes, even bloggers and Tweeters not affiliated with a news organization have been permitted to tap away in court:
Lawyer objections also often extend further in jury trials, stating that the broadcaster’s personal viewpoint may be read by the juror who goes online, thereby tainting their impartiality. However, judges cite that jurors are instructed to avoid newspaper, television and radio broadcasts which may relate to their case, and state further that the legal system must either trust jurors to obey court instructions, or not.
Certainly, jurors don’t correlate very well to readers of live blogs, and the Roundhouse is not a courthouse. But it is also hard to make an argument against providing New Mexicans more information about what goes on in committee meetings or on the floor.
As it is now, preventing webcasting means the only information to come out of those meetings is filtered.