Order! Order! No Tweeting (Well Maybe Some) in the Court!

Is everything on twitter 100% accurate? Far from it. And can a journalist chronicle a court case 140 characters at a time?

Lawyers Weekly (Canada) asks us to judge for ourselves. Follow trials in Ottawa and London, ON where judges in both cases are letting journalists stream events from the courtroom to the Internet via Twitter. Here are two cases to follow: In Ottawa, the bribery trial of Mayor Larry O’Brien and in London ON, the Bandidos trial.

Many lawyers aren’t yet sure what to think. “This is evolving rapidly,” says Toronto-based Daryl Cruz, partner and leader of th litigation practice group at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. “Six months ago, we probably wouldn’t have had this conversation because it wouldn’t have crossed anybody’s mind.”

Says law librarian Connie Crosby: "It (twitter) doesn’t give a lot of room for clarifying context and giving facts" principal of Toronto-based Crosby Group Consulting. She adds that tweets can be taken out of context, as happened when somebody mistakenly attributed an inflammatory tweet about Tamil protesters to Toronto Mayor David Miller when, in fact, the comment was merely addressed to Miller. She tells us that news organizations like The Wall Street Journal are now sending their reporters guides that cover Twitter as a medium for reporting.

"I’m pro-citizen journalism, but there’s a lot to be said for the training a journalist has," Crosby adds.

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