WINOL: Features Archive

At the age of just 15, Paul Blackburn was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years. Presented, edited and produced by Tom Morgan.

Media Law - Year Three Notes Archive

A collection of posts looking at media law, including tips for journalists, case examples and information on the various codes of conduct. Click here for more.

American Election 2012 - US Embassy Report

Myself, Lee Jarvis, Sam Sheard and Kirsty McDonagh spent the evening at the US Embassy as part of WINOL's coverage of the 2012 American election.

Work Experience: The One Show

This blog post serves as a summary of what I got up to during my time at the BBC and also provides some information on how the One Show is run.

Work Experience: PC Advisor

After breaking up from University for the summer, I arranged two separate work experience placements to keep me occupied over the break. The first of these placements was at PC Advisor in London.

Work Experience: Basingstoke Gazette

After breaking up from University for the summer, I arranged two separate work experience placements to keep me occupied over the break. The second of these placements was at the Basingstoke Gazette.

HCJ Notes Archive: Year One and Year Two

A collection of lecture notes, seminar papers and seminar summaries from Year One and Year Two on the HCJ course at the University of Winchester

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Channel 5 News Feedback - 27/11/12

After watching tonight's Channel 5 News bulletin, I thought I'd take the time to give some feedback on what I thought was strong within the show and what I'd alter.

Firstly, I thought the headlines were good. Some nice shots used with some great interview grabs. I also thought the subtle white fade / flash transition between the clips was nice on the eyes.

Photo: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I thought the story on flooding was very well put together. I liked the variety of shots in the package, particular of the interview with the gentleman stuck in his house and the POV shots from the helmet camera feeds of the emergency service members  The initial cut to Peter Lane was nice as it gave some background to the story before the VT began.

I thought it was interesting to see the interviewer in shot. This is something that, on WINOL, we rarely do. I think it was clearly needed for the interview with the flood victim because the reporter couldn't get any closer to the house. If anything, it added to the piece, because it gave a better sense of scale of the damage caused from the flooding. On a technical note, I was impressed that the sound of the gentleman's voice was so crisp considering he so far away from the reporter.

The second interview followed by the map was nice. It was good to see the VT broken up with some graphical elements.

Cameron's interview shortly after the map graphic was also well framed, with the river running behind him which linked well to the VT itself. Returning to a PTC at the end of the VT was nice, because I half expected the cameras to return to the studio. The strapline that came up during the ending PTC looked nice, but it was particularly hard to read the white 'LIVE' text against the light blue strap.

The second story by Catherine Jones on the sickness bug warning had some nice elements to it, but I didn't like the ominous and slightly spooky background music that accompanied the fade-in image. I appreciate that the bug is something to be feared, but I thought the music was a little over the top. It didn't seem to fit with the package as a whole and that's why it stuck out to me so much. The shot of the hospital hallway with the graphic over the top was also used twice during the VT, which seemed odd. The second time we saw the shot, it didn't add anything at all.

Again, for the interviews in the hospital VT, the interviewer was in shot. This seems somewhat odd to me, possibly because we don't use this technique on WINOL a great deal. To me, it seems unusual as I feel that the audience doesn't really care who's conducting the interview. They care about what's being said by the person who the camera's pointed at. In saying that, I did enjoy the pull focus shots in this VT, they were nice.

The OOV on EON was OK. Obviously, it wasn't the most entertaining / interesting story in the show which is why there was no accompanying VT. I thought having pictures behind the presenter in vision was a nice touch, though.

I think the 'coming up' segment that followed the Nadine Dorries package came at just the right time. It gave me a reason to carry on watching because the way the graphic was put together was genuinely interesting to look at and pleasing to the eye. This 'coming up' technique is something we've recently implemented on WINOL, and I think it works very well in both instances.

Following the ad break we had the Yasser Arafat package. I thought using the documentary clip as part of the VT for some context was a nice addition to the piece, but the audio was too loud as the voiceover of the reporter came in. Both the documentary clip audio and the voiceover were cutting against each other, and to me that sounded slightly odd. I thought very slightly adjusting audio levels here would have been ideal.

I thought the story on Bill Tarmey was a very strong piece. The shots from inside the church were beautifully shot and the interviews following the service were a nice touch. Again, the reporter was in the shot with the interviewees and the gun mic was slightly in view, which felt a little messy.

The graphics in the Sports Personality piece were, I thought, really well done. The scrapbook-style shot of all the contenders was effective as it gave each sports star some screentime. The interviews with Chris Hoy and Ellie Simmonds has some great quotes. I thought Ellie's interview was particularly well done. The reporter was out of shot for Ellie's interview and in shot for Chris Hoy's interview and given the chance to compare the interviews, I'd say Ellie's looked more professional.

Overall, a strong bulletin with some very impressive visual elements.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Media Law, Lecture 9, Year Three - Investigative Journalism

Our ninth lecture in media law looked at the world of investigative journalism  During the session, we covered topics including source protection, the difference between criminal and civil law, and relevant case examples.

Above all else, a gonzo investigator is always looking for tension. A sociologically unusual situation makes for a fantastic story. Put yourself in jeopardy for impact.

Image: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The '4th Estate', which refers to the overwhelming power of the press, supports the idea that we as journalists have a duty to investigate corruption, which leads nicely to this case example:

Case Example: The Dreyfus Affair

The Dreyfus Affair is a story of social injustice, following the wrongful conviction of French army captain, Alfred Dreyfus.

After secret documents were found in a waste paper bin at a German embassy, it became obvious that the French had a spy at the facility. The documents that were discovered discussed the future plans of the French military. Somebody in the French army was taking documents and handing this information to the Germans.

The French army framed Dreyfus, claiming it was him that was passing around the sensitive information. There were many reasons why Dreyfus was chosen to take the blame, but the most obvious was due to an overwhelming sense of anti-Semitism from the army. The fact Dreyfus was a particularly clever individual also made him seem suspect. After being pronounced guilty of treason, Dreyfus was sent to 'Devil's Island' in 1894, which remained part of the French penal colony until 1952.
A writer and novelist named Emile Zola (Born 1840) was present at Dreyfus' trial, and was disgusted and horrified by the way the French captain had been framed. This was ultimately his reasoning behind writing the famous 'J'accuse' article - to expose the Government for their actions. 

J'accuse was published in 1898, on the front page of 'L'aurore', a Paris daily paper. It was a massively controversial article, because it exposed the government for falsely accusing Dreyfus and knowing that they were doing so. 

My full seminar summary on the Dreyfus Affair can be found by clicking the following link: http://tommorganwinchester.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/jaccuse-and-dreyfus-affair-seminar.html

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Naturally, investigative journalism is often controversial, because it exposes powerful groups and leaders over issues that up to a point have remained private / secret. 

For a journalist, reliable sources and contacts are vital. Building a good relationship with a reliable contact can provide information on a regular basis that perhaps couldn't be obtained any other way. On WINOL, myself and the rest of the team know of the importance of contacts first hand. Our local political contacts in particular have proved vital to the bulletin on multiple occasions.

One way of gathering information to help bulk out a VT is by speaking to somebody 'off the record'. This serves as a promise that what is discussed will remain private. No matter what, you won't say a word. Once you've built a trust with a contact though, you can convince them to give information on the record, which can be shared.

Qualified privilege was also covered in the lecture, and I've discussed that previously here: http://tommorganwinchester.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/media-law-lecture-7-year-three-privilege.html

On the subject of privilege, we discussed the case of Toogood v Spyring, upon which qualified privilege in common law is defined. 

Case Example: Toogood v Spyring

Toogood employed a butler and believed the butler was stealing spoons from his house during working hours. The butler was sacked by Toogood, but from this a legal issue arose. In the reference letter that accompanied the sacking, Toogood had stated that the butler was a thief, which was clearly defamatory. Toogood had no defence for this as there was no evidence the butler had stolen anything, however the judge threw out the butler's case.

On 'common convenience of society' - If there's no malice present at all, but it's good for society to know the information, that outweighs the rights of the butler.

During the case, the judge said: "The law considers such publication as malicious, unless it is fairly made by a person in the discharge of some public or private duty, whether legal or moral, or in conduct of his own affairs, in matters where his interest is concerned. In such cases the occasion prevents the inference of malice, which draws from unauthorised communications, and affords a qualified defence depending on the absence of actual malice. If fairly warranted by any reasonable occasion or exigency, and honestly made, such communications are protected for the common convenience and welfare of society; and the law has not restricted the right to make them within any narrow limits."

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We then revised the standard of proof in both civil and criminal cases. In a criminal case, the standard of proof must be 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Prosecution must be absolutely sure an individual committed a crime. The consequences of loosing a criminal case is severe punishment e.g. heavy fines, imprisonment. As the outcome is so severe, it's important all doubt surrounding the case is absent. Civil cases, on the other hand, are resolved on a balance of probability

Double jeopardy means that an individual can't be tried for the same crime twice. Recent and ongoing advances in DNA evidence, though, can bring about exceptions.

Case Example: Stephen Lawrence

Stephen was a black 18-year-old student who was the victim of a racial attack. He was stabbed to death whilst waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April, 1993. The Daily Mail picked up on the case 4 years later and published the names of five men who they believed were Stephen's killers. The headline used by the newspaper read: "Murderers: The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us." Calling the men 'murderers' was libelous and the defence in this instance was that it was true. It's worth noting that there was no defence of justification here or any privilege, but the men didn't sue the paper.

Below the Mail's headline was a picture of the 5 men who had been named. To this day, the men identified have not sued the paper. The case of Stephen Lawrence led to alterations in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Following the changes, it was decided retrials would be allowed if there was 'new and compelling evidence' to justify doing so.

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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Media Law, Lecture 8, Year Three - Electoral law, TV and Radio

Our eight lecture in Media Law looked at electoral law, including topics on how to cover events and proceedings during such times and the importance of producing fair and accurate reports.

Why does reporting the elections matter? It matters because we, as journalists, have a duty to deliver news to the public on national and local issues. It's a powerful position to be in, because the content journalists produce during the election process can sway voters. A local political story certainly may not always prove to be the most exciting package to put together, but for potential local voters accurate coverage is vital. 

Image: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Naturally, when reporting on local politics and electoral proceedings, it's essential to maintain balance and accuracy. Fairness and impartiality are also key. For more on guidelines and codes of conduct, visit my blog post here: http://tommorganwinchester.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/media-law-lecture-4-year-three-law-and.html 

There are a number of notable differences between print journalism and broadcast journalism when it comes to publishing content related to elections.

In broadcast, there are strict regulations ensuring that if a story on the subject is aired, each major candidate gets an equal amount of time on screen. As was said during the lecture, "Keep your eye on the clock". If, for example, a reporter had interviewed two of the three major political party candidates for a package, the package couldn't air if a third interview with the final candidate wasn't included. To broadcast such a package without balance is very dangerous. 

A recent package put together by the BBC on the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner debate, for example, featured interview grabs from every candidate. 

OFCOM defines the UK's 'major parties' on its website, stating:

"
At present, "major parties" in Great Britain are defined as: the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, and the Liberal Democrats and, in Scotland and Wales respectively, the Scottish National Party ("SNP") and Plaid Cymru. The major parties in Northern Ireland are: the Democratic Unionist PartySinn Fein, the Social Democratic & Labour Party, and the Ulster Unionist Party".

It's also worth noting that minor major party candidates who may end up being influential should be included in the VT.

Image: Public Domain
Print journalism is a little different to broadcast when it comes to electoral rules and regulations. As you can see from the image above, newspapers are able to have clear political allegiances, which is something that broadcast strictly forbids. 

Case Example: Phil Woolas, former Immigration Minister - 2010

During the lecture, we discussed the case of Phil Woolas. Mr Woolas, the former Immigration Minister, was removed from his parliamentary role after being found knowingly producing false information about his Lib Dem opponent at the time.

Originally, Woolas won the election by 103 votes. Liberal Democrat Elwyn Watkins said that Woolas had intentionally misled Oldham East voters in order to win the election.

One of the leaflets backing Woolas stated: "Extremists are trying to hijack this election. They want you to vote Lib Dem to punish Phil for being strong on immigration".

The high court ruled that Mr Woolas had broken election laws by incorrectly claiming that his Lib Dem opponent was receiving support from Muslim extremists. When the 2010 parliamentary poll was overturned in an electoral court, this marked the first time such a move had been made for 99 years.

Woolas lost his seat in the Commons and was barred for three years.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Features Archive

A collection of posts with links to the work I have produced during my time on the WINOL features team.

This post will be regularly updated as I upload new content to the site.

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BJTC Behind the Scenes - A behind the scenes look at the BJTC awards, hosted by Alastair Stewart and held at the University of Winchester. For the full video, click here:


Appsolutely Fabulous - Browsing through a seemingly endless list of games on your mobile phone’s application store can be a tedious challenge, so this month we’re making it easier than ever for you to find the best free downloadable titles out there. For the full article, click here: 



London U.S. Embassy Report - "WINOL was in the thick of it through the night on Tuesday and Wednesday this week as a team of video journalists reported the US election live from the US embassy in London. The team were feeding information through to the studio at WINOL headquarters where an historic first live transatlantic election results programme was underway"

For the full video, click here: 


For my analysis of the evening, click here:

http://tommorganwinchester.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/winol-at-londons-us-embassy-party.html

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

WINOL at London's U.S. Embassy Party

Today I finished editing together the footage collected by myself and the rest of the team that traveled to the U.S Embassy.

Image: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The full video can be accessed below:


I have also blogged in more detail about the visit at the following link:

http://tommorganwinchester.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/election-2012-winol-visits-us-embassy.html

Friday, 9 November 2012

Election 2012 - WINOL Visits the US Embassy

It's been a couple of days since I travelled to the US Embassy with a team of 3 other WINOL team members and I thought it would be beneficial to summarise our time at the event.

Myself, Lee Jarvis, Sam Sheard and Kirsty Phillips spent the evening at the US Embassy as part of WINOL's coverage of the 2012 American election.

We arrived in the morning at around 10am and dropped our camera equipment off in the media room. We were told that all filming was to take place in this room, which would also be where the guests spent the majority of the night keeping up to date with the latest developments via mounted television screens.

It was useful to scope out the room before we returned later, as it gave myself and the team an idea of where we were going to position our camera, how we were going to gather shots and where to upload from. A quick Internet speed test revealed that the download and upload speeds were extremely good, which put my mind at ease as I knew I could edit and upload content quickly throughout the night.

Above: The lobby area from which singer Russell Watson later sung Star Spangled Banner
We returned to the Embassy after a day preparing in London, at around 9pm. Our first priority was to find a means of syncing our computers with the media room Internet, which we managed within a couple of minutes. We were one of the first teams into the media room on the night, which gave us more than enough space to position our camera equipment exactly where we wanted it.

A number of journalists and film crews then began to enter the media room. Myself and Kirsty set our computers onto Twitter so we could post any information to the WINOL twitter feed as it came in. The whole team was tweeting throughout the night. We made sure to follow the tweets of a number of American political analysts and journalists to help our own work.

Our Twitter profiles can be accessed below:

Kirsty Phillips - http://twitter.com/kirsty_123

Within less than 15 minutes, we were producing video content for WINOL's 2012 American Election Special. Lee produced his first piece to camera of the night, briefly explaining to viewers our set-up and our plans for the remainder of the evening. It was edited and uploaded to my YouTube channel within 5 minutes. 


The team continued to tweet from inside the Embassy. As I formatted the camera cards so we could use them to upload, the rest of the team moved around the media room gathering GV's.

Our first interview of the night was with Charlie Wolf, political commentator and former Communications Director of Republicans Abroad UK.

He said:

"I think [the polls] are oversampling Democrats. They're basing it on the last election in 2008 and the debate in 2008 was a very different, one-of-a-kind election. You're not going to get the same turnout."

"I feel very comfortable with Governor Romney. I reckon he's going to do very well. I think he's going to win. I feel very hopeful and I feel very confident."

Our full interview with Charlie Wolf can be found below:


We had been told that opera singer Russell Watson would be performing in the main lobby during the night. Whilst Lee and Kirsty were gathering footage from downstairs, myself and Sam made our way to the lobby. Up until that moment, myself and the team had spent the night in the media room, so trying to find an ideal spot in the lobby for the camera proved difficult. 

We knew that the shot of Russell singing was an important one and would make for some interesting footage. We managed to squeeze our way through the crowd to catch a glimpse of the performance, but it wasn't ideal. Sam did well to position the camera and zoom onto Russell's performance.

Interestingly, as soon as we'd uploaded the Russell Watson footage, it began to gather views. Many people were interested in seeing the performance, and we were one of the first teams to get that footage onto YouTube. Even now, when you search for 'Russell Watson Star Spangled Banner' on YouTube, our video is the only result to appear. The video currently has around 300 unique views.


Our next interview was with Rob Carolina, Chair of Democrats Abroad UK.

"As a Democrat, I'm very confident about what the result's going to be tonight".

"From what we've seen, we have every confidence that President Obama is going to win tonight and the reason for that is nothing to do with the popular vote. It's all to do with the electoral vote".

Rob also covered Hurricane Sandy and its effects on the 2012 American election. For our full interview with Rob Carolina, visit the link below:


Our third interview of the night was with British journalist and political commentator, Andrew Marr. After doing OK filming our previous interviews, I'm personally a little disappointed with how I framed this one. Although the media room was, at this point, completely packed, I should have done better positioning the camera.

The lighting, sadly, was as good as I could get it. The lights at this point were dimmed slightly so that people could read the new results that were displayed on the projector screen, and the yellow walls in the room weren't helping matters either. Nevertheless, we got some good quotes from our interviewee and it was nice to get a British perspective on the event. Hopefully, when I edit the piece with Lee this coming week, we can fix the lighting levels in Final Cut.

Our full interview with Andrew Marr can be seen below:


Once I'd taken the interview from the camera and uploaded it to my YouTube channel, we had a break and filmed some GV's. I used my experience filming the recent Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Debate to focus on recording peoples reactions to the news coming into the Embassy. These GV's also complimented our next VT well, which was a 'news just in' piece.


Our next interview was with British Liberal Democrat, Sir Menzies Campbell. As with the previous interviews, we made sure to tweet pictures of the interview process to give a behind-the-scenes feel to what we were up to at the Embassy. Kirsty did a great job on the night of taking pictures of our interviewees.

Campbell said:

"It comes down to [Ohio]. It's a huge opportunity for people who live in Ohio, but a huge responsibility as well".

"As it stands, the results suggest it really is too close to call".

Our full interview with Sir Menzies Campbell can be viewed below:


Following our interview with Sir Menzies Campbell, we returned to our desk at the center of the media room and edited a collection of clips. I uploaded the content to my YouTube channel and ensured that Tammy, who would be using our footage in Winchester the following morning, had the correct links to the best material.

The remainder of our time at the US Embassy was spent filming live reaction VT's to news coming in. I was determined to get the cheering and clapping sound of the crowd as new results came in, but was juggling a number of jobs on the computer. Thankfully, Sam managed to get some nice shots of the crowd reaction which would be ideal for the WINOL election broadcast.


After a final piece to camera from Lee, we ended our video coverage of the event. Once this final clip was uploaded, myself and the team focused our attention on tweeting the latest developments.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the US Embassy. I feel that the whole team performed incredibly well under such pressure and everybody played a vital role in ensuring WINOL had content to use for the broadcast the morning after. Although not all of our footage was used, we'll be editing together a longer package of our time in London to put onto the WINOL website.

Media Law, Lecture 7, Year Three - Privilege

Our seventh lecture in Media Law looked at privilege and its variations, along with how to identify what can be published at certain times.

Much of what was covered in this week's lecture links well with last week's topic on court reporting. For more on court reporting, you can access my previous media law post here: LINK.

Picture: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Privilege ultimately provides journalists with the protection to publish. Reporting from court brings privilege, as does the House of Commons / parliamentary proceedings.

There are two variations of privilege, which are qualified and absolute. Qualified privilege is relevant to police meetings, press conferences and council meetings. A public meeting in the public interest attracts a degree of privilege, which is good for us as journalists, because it gives us a dependable source of news from which to gather content.

Privilege is our friend. It allows us to write and broadcast material which may be defamatory or untrue, or even both at the same time. It gives us protection from being sued, too, which is why it's so valuable to the professionPrivilege even exists under common law and statute.

It's important to note that qualified privilege is only present if the report produced by the writer / journalist is:

1) Fair
2) Accurate
3) Without malice (More on malice in a previous blog post here: LINK)
4) A matter of public concern

This 4-point list links well with my post on the codes of conduct. The NUJ code of conduct, for example, shares similar values:

"Rule 2 discusses the importance of avoiding 'distortion', essentially highlighting the need to avoid misrepresenting stories and facts which would lead to confusion amongst the public. It states: " A journalist shall at all times defend the principle of the freedom of the Press and other media in relation to the collection of information and the expression of comment and criticism. He/she shall strive to eliminate distortion, news suppression and censorship."

Rule 3 says that any information released must be true and accurate, which basically repeats the idea behind the rule before it. It also says that it's important a Journalist does not pass off comment as fact. Clearly, this would go against the 'professional' and 'ethical' standards discussed at the start of the code. Rule 3 says: "A journalist shall strive to ensure that the information he/she disseminates is fair and accurate, avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as established fact and falsification by distortion, selection or misrepresentation."


I've written more on codes of conduct here: LINK.

Produce an honest piece that is balanced and you're likely to be safe from any legal issues.

Continuing on from point 4, Information can be published if it's considered to be in the public interest, which is defined as:

1) Detecting or exposing crime or serious impropriety
2) Protecting public health and safety
3) Preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation


For more on court reporting, you can access my previous media law post here: LINK.

Absolute privilege is different to qualified privilege in a number of ways. Having absolute privilege means what you're saying or producing can't truly be attacked or questioned.

Only a select few have absolute privilege, such as the Queen and judges in court. Lawyers and witnesses in court cases also fall under this category. When journalists sit in court, they have qualified privilege and therefore the right to record and report defamatory statements.

You can't be defamed for something that you've said in court. One can't be sued in this instance either.

As broadcasters, we should always be aware of the dangers of going out live. Consider the risks of broadcasting live before you do so and prepare to react if something is said that shouldn't be. A good example would involve a miscarriage of justice conference. An individual could allude to police corruption, for example, which would be highly defamatory. Part of the challenge of live television is anticipating what could potentially go wrong and taking steps to avoid it.

Our recent coverage of the 2012 Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Debate on WINOL is somewhat relevant here. We hosted the event on Ustream with a 5 second delay. Admittedly, it wasn't much, but it gave us an option to pause or stop the broadcast if something potentially dangerous was said.

Press conferences (or 'pressers') are considered public meetings. Their meaning was further strengthened in 2000, when Lord Bingham was commenting on a trial involving the Times newspaper. 

Section 4 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888 states:

"A fair and accurate report published in any newspaper of the proceedings of a public meeting, or (except where neither the public nor any newspaper reporter is admitted) of any meeting of a vestry, town council, school board, . . . shall be privileged, unless it shall be proved that such report or publication was published or made maliciously.."

More information on the case can be found here: LINK.

Media Law, Lecture 6, Year Three - Court Reporting and Crime

Our sixth law lecture of the term looked at issues relating to reporting crime, and also covered prejudice, contempt of court and their effects on publishing material.

Many journalists consider knowledge of the court's and the legal system in general vital to their work, as often some of the most genuinely interesting and shocking stories are crime-related. On Winchester News Online, we regularly tackle a number of legal issues when reporting on stories sourced from Winchester Crown Court.

If a reporter fails to foresee legal issues and publishes content that breaks the law, careers can be ruined and jobs can be lost. 

Arguably one of the most important pieces of information to come out of the lecture, for me, was the 7 point list to follow during pre-trial reports. It's a list that sets forward a number of points to consider when publishing a story on a case that has become 'active'. A case becomes 'active', of course, when Police have made an arrest or have issued an arrest warrant. It can also become active when a summons has been issued by the magistrates.


Picture: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The following information can be published when the case you're reporting on becomes active:

1) Names of defendants, ages, addresses and occupations
2) The charges faced
3) The name of the court and the magistrate's name
4) The name's of the solicitors or barristers involved
5) The date and location of where the case is adjourned
6) Bail arrangements
7) Whether or not legal aid was given

Much of the lecture focused on fictional example cases, which was useful because it gave me a chance to apply my knowledge and the facts put forward in the lecture.

We took part in a fictional exercise concerning a story on an armed robbery. At the start of the activity, when the news had just become available, we were able to write up our articles on the situation in quite some depth. However, as the time after the incident went on and police developed their investigation, we were forced to report slightly less information. Once the men involved with the crime were charged, legally, what could be published by us changed. At this stage, it became more about factual accuracy and less about the description of the event itself. 

A good means of developing the story (whilst remaining legally safe) once the Police had issued an arrest would be to interview locals on their thoughts on the incident. As is constantly said during our debriefs on WINOL, news is about people.

It was emphasised in the lecture that two key issues associated with court reporting are prejudice and contempt of court.

Prejudice refers to the act of publishing information that could lead to an unfair trial or information that will affect the jury's decision. This was something we had to consider during the practical exercise on the shop robbery.

Contempt of court is defined in McNae's as material that:

"is published which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice or impediment to particular legal proceedings which are active". 

Simply put, reporting information on those involved with the case once it becomes active (that has not been issued by the Police) is strictly forbidden and will have severe legal consequences for the writer if ignored. However, anything said by the Police can be reported. In our robbery example, once the men had been charged, part of my story read: "Police have arrested two men in connection with an armed robbery offence that took place earlier today in.."

If a reporter was to dig deeper for information that had not been released by the police by attempting to contact those involved in the case, this would be a clear example of contempt of court.

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