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Extrajudicial Speech

In an article in the Columbia Journalism Review, Dean Starkman describes this approach of constantly doing more with less as the “hamster wheel.â€?39 He explains that the emphasis on “volume without thoughtâ€? engenders a level of deep passivity in media organizations.40 This passivity, according to a Pew study, creates a dependence on governmental VRXUFHVWKDWJRHVEH\RQGVLPSO\UHO\LQJRQRIÂżFLDOYHUVLRQRIHYHQWV41 The 2010 study found that in fact 63 percent of all news in the city of Baltimore was initiated by governPHQWRIÂżFLDOVZLWKWKHYDVWPDMRULW\RIFULPHVWRULHVFRPLQJIURPSROLFHVRXUFHV42 External control of the information process is sometimes so complete that releases from JRYHUQPHQWRIÂżFLDOVRIWHQDSSHDUYHUbatim in press accounts.43 Journalists, like hamsters, are Bill Girdner, owner and editor of Courthouse News Service, decried the running ever faster in place in an increasing media dependence on other sources for stories involving the courts: effort to complete their daily quota “When journalists don’t have presence RIÂłVXSHUÂżFLDOVWRULHV´ (in the courthouse), others control the information process.â€?44

How the New Media Environment Affects the Courts

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Girdner’s concern about who controls the information process is one that judges should share. Sixty-one percent of all lead stories on local news are about crime, disasters or accidents.45 These crime stories generally originate from the police. Media reporting therefore focuses on the brutal facts of the crime in conjunction with the defendant’s arrest or arraignment and rarely is a story about how well courts do their job.46 Lawyers and judges are taught in law school that the origins of the American common law lie in the Magna Carta, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and that these great documents form the basis of our system of justice. Lawyers study case law as part of an intellectual effort to learn the development of our laws in the context of common law courts. Little, if any, thought is given to public opinion as the originator of our legal system. Professor Lawrence M. Friedman asserts that this common legal understanding is wrong and that the public’s attitude toward the courts shapes the justice system through an interaction of three different cultural paradigms.47 7KH¿UVWRIWKHVHKHGH¿QHVDVWKHSRSXODUFXOWXUHRUWKH³QRUPVDQGYDOXHVKHOGE\ ordinary people.�48 Friedman claims popular culture is related to – but distinct from – the SRSXODUOHJDOFXOWXUH+HGH¿QHVWKLVVHFRQGFXOWXUHPXFKRIZKLFKLVGHULYHGIURPWKHPHGLD

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39. Starkman, supra note 35. 40. ,G. 41. +RZ1HZV+DSSHQV$6WXG\RIWKH1HZV(FRV\VWHPRI2QH$PHULFDQ&LW\, P EW R ESEARCH ’C ENTER’S P ROJECT FOR E XCELLENCE IN JOUR NALISM , Jan. 11, 2010, http://www.journalism.org/analysis_report/ how_news_happens. 42. ,G. 43. ’,G. 44. WALDMA N, ET AL . supra note 27, at 48. 45. ,G. at 88, citing Prepared Testimony of Tom Rosenstiel, Dir., Pew Research Ctr. Proj. for Excellence in Journalism, FCC Workshop on the Future of Media and the Information Needs of Communities: Serving the Public Interest in the Digital Era (Mar. 4, 2010), available at http://reboot.fcc.gov/futureofmedia/serving-the-publicinterest-in-the-digital-era. 46. ,G. at 47. 47. Lawrence M. Friedman, Law, Lawyers, and Popular Culture, 98 YALE L.J. 1579 (1989). 48. ,G. at 1579.

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Profile for The National Judicial College

Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Spring 2012  

This issue of the Journal covers Facebook service, Judgespeak and more.

Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Spring 2012  

This issue of the Journal covers Facebook service, Judgespeak and more.

Profile for njcmag