NUJ welcomes MPs’ report calling for greater support for journalists covering court cases

  • 02 Nov 2022

A report by the cross-party Justice Committee has called on the court system to do more to support open justice in the digital age, including helping digital platforms cover court decisions.

The report said:

“The decline of print media has resulted in court proceedings being less visible to the public and digital media has so far failed to fill this gap. Many regional titles have shut down and those that remain are no longer able to employ dedicated court reporters, meaning it is harder for people to see how the justice system operates in their area.

"Barriers in the court system are making it difficult for journalists and members of the public to follow court proceedings. The quality of publicly available information can often be poor and basic data about court proceedings unavailable. The committee also heard complaints about a lack of access to key documents submitted to courts making it difficult to follow proceedings."

The committee called for a single digital portal where the media and public can access full information on court proceedings, court documents and any other relevant information. Every court should have a publicised point of contact to provide information and answer queries. The report also said the reporting on family court proceedings was “no longer fit for purpose and should be reviewed and reformed”.

  The MPs said technology now allows greater opportunities for reporters to cover courts remotely, saying: “The broadcasting of Crown Court sentencing remarks is a welcome step in improving understanding of sentencing decisions and consideration should be given to expanding this to other courts.” 

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“Courts must heed this welcome report and provide greater access to court proceedings and embrace the opportunities provided by technology. It is vital that justice is in the public eye and reported on by the media. Our members say that support from the court system is patchy – court lists need to be made available and court documents available digitally. The report is right to recommend that every court should list an email address on its website to enable the media and the public to request access to remote hearings.”

Open justice: court reporting in the digital age 

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