back to article Journos can tweet from UK courts: But who's a journo?

Journalists will be able to tweet freely from courts says new guidance from the UK Judiciary, but members of the public will still have to ask the judge's permission to be able to use Twitter in a court-room. Before yesterday, journalists had to be licensed before tweeting the proceedings of a trial. Now they can "Twitter as …


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  1. Pete Spicer

    So are they monitoring the conversations/Twitter feeds to validate that things are being used for that purpose?

    I presume the logic behind this is that it's publicly visible rather than private communication, as that's the one difference Twitter has vs email, texting etc.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Right. So "live text-based communication" is ok but texting and emailing is not. Presumably this is being differntiated by the fact that one is being 'published' rather than a private message. So does that mean that updating a facebook status with the same details is acceptable? Surely that falls somewhere between the two cases mentioned but dependent upon the person's privacy settings or will we soon start seeing legislation including phrases such as ' as long as the Facebook (TM) PrivacyGuard (TM) has been set to "Tell The Whole World About Me" or the Google+ (TM) .....'.

    As I'm sure favouring brands in legal rulings is frowned upon, anticompetitive and entirely unworkable, what about a non-Twitter alternative? If it required an account to log on would that affect it? If so, what is the minimum number of user accounts you need before you fall into the 'private' category.

    This is yet another case of people who understand the law but either don't understand or are ignorant of technology who are making decisions with far-reaching consequences. I'm sure it won't be long before we start getting mis-trials because someone had the wrong privacy setting or something stupid like that. FFS.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I think that...

    ... The simple ambiguous answer to the question "what is a journalist" will be that a Journalist will be the one that knows what tweets would constitute contempt of court, whereas Joe Public would be the person who doesn't know what constitutes contempt of court, so hence the sensible banning of tweets from non-journalists.

    Nowdays "Journalist" tends to be blurred, and it's a case of "whoever has the deepest pockets can call themselves a journalist, and report anything they want".

    1. Vic

      > a Journalist will be the one that knows what tweets would constitute contempt of court

      You've not been keeping up with the UK journalist scandal, then?


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes I have...

        ... hence the final comment.

  4. Matthew Anderson

    This is fucking stupid.

    1. If I am up in court what right has some halfwit journo got to be sending 140 chars about my case proceedings to whomever they wish? It's bad enough that it gets reported in nasty tabloids the day after, never mind live fucking coverage in txt spk.

    2. If I am a Judge in a busy court room, proceeding over an important case, why would I want half baked requests from members of the public, or anyone else for that matter to send 140 char messages to all n sundry? Taking up valuable court time and interfering with matters in hand...

    Nonsense I say....

  5. Vic

    > There is however no statutory prohibition on the use of live text-based

    > communications in open court."

    Cool. So we can use Gobby :-)


  6. Ejit

    UK Courts...really?

    "Journalists will be able to tweet freely from courts England and Wales" There fixed it for you.

    There is no such think as a UK Judiciary and this does not apply to Scotland. Please try to keep up.

  7. k9gardner

    When is a journalist not a journalist?

    And let's not forget the case of Crystal Cox, sued for defamation in her reporting of an attorney's handling of a particular bankruptcy case. Her defense - that she was a journalist and thereby protected - was thrown out when the judge in her own case decided that a blogger is ~not necessarily~ a journalist.

    According to a Boston Globe article (12/8/2011), "Hernandez said Cox was not a journalist because she offered no professional qualifications as a journalist or legitimate news outlet. She had no journalism education, credentials, or affiliation with a recognized news outlet, proof of adhering to journalistic standards such as editing or checking her facts, evidence she produced an independent product, or evidence she ever tried to get both sides of the story."

    Nevertheless Ms. Cox was and is a prominent, well-known and well-followed blogger in her own right. And of course we must also consider the case of Julian Assange, about whom the media are split into so many camps it's hard to know which way the wind blows. Salon says he IS a journalist, the State Department (US) says he's NOT a journalist, and at least one reporter (former NY Times reporter Judy Miller) says he's a BAD journalist.

    Journalism, like many fields, is both blessed and cursed by having no fixed, official and universally accepted standard of inclusion. It is therefore always open to interpretation. When a judge rules, as did Mr. Hernandez, in a particularly narrow way, it temporarily tilts the balance in that direction. But the preponderance of evidence in support of an alternative view will usually cause it to win out in the end, after much wrangling in the courts and in the press itself.

    The current battle is anything but won. At least the Lord Chief Justice, if he errs at all, errs on the side of openness. While tweeting can hardly be considered a substitute for reporting, it at least opens the door for persons who are actually observing with their own eyes and ears what is going on in a courtroom to let others know what they are witnessing. Taken with a grain of salt, that seems like a good thing.

  8. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Wasn't in America

    The juror jailed for facebooking an acquitted defendant was from Manchester.

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