independent House, home of the Irish Independent.
‘Bona fide’ journalists are accredited and employed by a recognised media outlet. The copy they file is then processed through a layer of sub-editors, editors and, crucially, lawyers who ensure that nothing in breach of any restrictions ever hits the page.
It’s a rigorous, frequently onerous process, which can be the bane of a court reporter’s existence – but that frequently frustrating experience is also a lot better than collapsing a trial.
‘Citizen journalists’ on the other hand may indeed be citizens, but they’re not journalists.
Simply typing some words on your phone and releasing them to your Twitter feed does not make you a journalist. It makes you, at best, a concerned citizen and, at worst, an amateur who can wreck an entire case.
Court reporting, by its own inherently sensitive nature, is an almost forensic procedure which involves more rules and potential pitfalls than other areas of journalism.
It’s a frequently perilous legal tightrope which takes a particular skill set and expertise to master fully.
The people who spend their day angrily fulminating on Twitter may think they’re fulfilling some role, but they’re a menace.
After all, these rules haven’t been designed to cosset some gilded inner circle, but to protect ordinary citizens from having their right to justice denied by some fool with a Twitter handle.
Ian O’Doherty, Irish Independent, November 20, three days before an article and editorial in the Irish Independent forced the collapse of a rape trial.
‘New court-reporting restrictions protect the rights of citizens from some fool with a Twitter handle’ (Ian O’Doherty, irish Independent November 20)
Yesterday: During Deliberations