Saturday, May 1, 2010

Court twits

I caught the tail end of Ron Sylvester's tweets the other day and decided to go back and fill in the gaps.

He was tweeting about a court case as it happened.

Ron is a court reporter for the Wichita Eagle (Kansas, USA) and a year or so ago I noticed was tweeting from court - and wrote an essay about it.

There's more about him here.

As one of the links above notes, Ron believes a journalist's role is to pass on information and while he's not new to the game he can see how new media platforms like twitter make doing that job easier and more effective.

As he says, "it puts print back in the game".

I'm not a court reporter so it's hard for me to conceive of how he can tweet so succinctly - and within the confines of media law - but he manages to put the objective facts across with a little subjective colour (so anyone could read the tweets and prick their ears, or eyes, up).

This is the story his tweets related to: a federal trial of a former physician and his wife.

The couple's charged with illegally prescribing painkillers that prosecutors say led to dozens of patient deaths.

I still wonder if NZ papers would be willing to try tweeting from a trial?

I think there would be so many conditions - an experienced and open minded reporter, a stable and reliable platform/internet connection, a Judge who allowed what's essentially texting in court, an editor or fact checker, a trial on a sub-page...

Also, would readers care enough to keep refreshing a page or keep an eye on a twitter feed?

And if the answer was probably going to be 'yes', would that present the media outlet with a problem: Put twitter to the test, tweet a big story and risk getting it wrong (but generate an audience). Or, play it safe and tweet about something that's not probably not going to be of much interest to the public (don't generate much of an audience).


London, 2007

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