Trial coverage to a big step forward in October, thanks to a federal judge and tech-savvy reporters. During the corruption trial of then Birmingham mayor Larry Langford, Twitter became a primary source of live updates throughout the eight days in session.
Federal law prohibits broadcasting from within the courtroom. And a sign just outside the courtroom instructs that cell phones must be turned off. But Judge Scott Coogler allowed members of the media to use their phones to send updates to their Twitter accounts.
Followers were able to read live accounts of testimony, arguments and the mechanics of a high-profile trial from their computers and phones. It’s likely the first time a major trial received this level of scrutiny.
“The difference is Twitter is like a reporter taking notes, if you will, instead of having to take the notes back to their office, they’re writing them on a device which then goes out.
“It’s their own interpretation of what’s going on in the proceeding, and when I looked at it, it seemed pretty clear to me.”
During the trial, Coogler instructed jurors to isolate themselves from media coverage, but also included blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other sources of information. But he also took time to praise reporters for handling the coverage with decorum in and out of the courtroom.
Trial Twitterers included:
- @JohnArchibald (Birmingham News columnist)
- @Langford_trial (Birmingham News)
- @LangfordCourt (Fox 6)
- @LangfordTrial (NBC 13’s Jon Paepcke)
- @LLtrial (an automated feed)
It’s clear that for citizens and for reporters, Twitter has changed how trial news is reported and consumed.
How would you grade the media’s coverage of the Langford trial? Did you follow along on Twitter? Leave a comment at the beep. Beep.
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