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NCJ Number: 51632 Find in a Library
Title: HOW MINNESOTA NEWSPAPERS COVER THE TRIAL COURTS
Journal: JUDICATURE  Volume:62  Issue:4  Dated:(OCTOBER 1978)  Pages:195-202
Author(s): R E DRECHSEL
Corporate Author: American Judicature Soc
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: American Judicature Soc
Chicago, IL 60601-7401
Institute for Scientific Information
Philadelphia, PA 19104
UMI Dissertation Services
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346
Sale Source: UMI Dissertation Services
300 North Zeeb Road
P.O. Box 1346
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346
United States of America

Institute for Scientific Information
University City Science Ctr
3501 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A SURVEY OF THE METHODS, SOURCES, ATTITUDES, AND PROBLEMS OF NONMETROPOLITAN NEWSPAPER COURT REPORTERS IN MINNESOTA PROVIDES THE BASIS FOR A DISCUSSION OF TRIAL COURT COVERAGE BY THE PRESS.
Abstract: QUESTIONNAIRES WERE SENT TO ALL 25 NONMETROPOLITAN DAILY NEWSPAPERS IN MINNESOTA IN JANUARY 1978. RESPONSES WERE RECEIVED FROM 19 PAPERS. SURVEY FINDINGS ENCOMPASS THE DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF COURT REPORTERS, THE TYPES OF COURTS THEY COVER, THE INFORMATION THEY GATHER AND HOW THEY GATHER IT, THE SOURCES THEY USE, THE PROBLEMS THEY HAVE WITH THE COMPLEXITY OF COURT INFORMATION, THE TYPES OF STORIES THEY WRITE, THE AUDIENCE THEY WRITE FOR, AND THEIR ATTITUDES ABOUT THEIR JOBS. THE SURVEY FOUND THAT COURT REPORTERS WORK HARD AT THEIR JOBS, BUT THAT THE COMPLEX NATURE OF THE JUDICIAL PROCESS, PLUS THE MATTER OF DEADLINES, MAKES THAT JOB DIFFICULT. MOST OF THE 19 COURT REPORTERS WERE YOUNG AND COLLEGE EDUCATED; OF THESE, 60 PERCENT SAID THEY HAD SOME CLASSROOM CONTACT WITH LEGAL SUBJECTS, USUALLY THROUGH COURSES IN BUSINESS OR PRESS LAW. HOWEVER, 20 PERCENT HAD DONE COURSEWORK IN CRIMINAL LAW, AND 3 HAD WORK EXPERIENCE WITH LAW FIRMS. FOR MOST, COURT COVERAGE WAS A SMALL PART OF THEIR DUTIES. BUT 78 PERCENT DID MAKE AT LEAST DAILY CONTACT WITH THE COURTS THEY COVERED. THE TYPE OF INFORMATION GATHERED BY THE REPORTERS AND THE TYPE OF COURT PROCEEDINGS THEY ATTEND INDICATE CLOSER ATTENTION TO CRIMINAL COURT ACTION THAN TO CIVIL COURT ACTION. THERE IS AN EMPHASIS ON EVENT-CENTERED SPOT NEWS (AS OPPOSED TO FEATURES ON THE COURTS AND STORIES ON LEGAL TRENDS OR ISSUES). MOST OF THE REPORTERS SAID THEY FELT CONFIDENT ABOUT COVERING THE COURTS. HOWEVER, MANY WHO SAID THEY HAD NO TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING LEGAL DOCUMENTS AND PROCEEDINGS ALSO RESPONDED TO A QUESTION ASKING WHERE THEY SEEK HELP WHEN THEY DO HAVE SUCH PROBLEMS. RESPONSES INDICATE THAT REPORTERS DO RELY ON JUDGES, ATTORNEYS, AND CLERKS FOR ASSISTANCE THAT INVOLVES EXPLANATION AND INTERPRETATION AS WELL AS FACTS. NEARLY 80 PERCENT OF THE REPORTERS SAID THEY BELIEVE THAT COURT COVERAGE IS AS IMPORTANT AS COVERAGE OF OTHER PUBLIC AFFAIRS, EVEN THOUGH THE COURTS GENERALLY RECEIVE LESS THAN 25 PERCENT OF THE REPORTERS' TIME, AND EVEN THOUGH NEARLY A THIRD OF THE REPORTERS WRITE COURT STORIES (OTHER THAN LISTS OF DISPOSITIONS AND APPEARANCES) LESS THAN ONCE A WEEK. FURTHER STUDY INTO OTHER ASPECTS OF COURT COVERAGE BY THE MEDIA IS RECOMMENDED. NO TABULAR DATA ARE INCLUDED. (LKM)
Index Term(s): County courts; Media coverage; Minnesota; Municipal courts; Studies; Surveys
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51632

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