Reporting Justice

III/2: Reporting on Judicial Institutions

III/2: Reporting on Judicial Institutions

Journalism Module 2: Reporting on Judicial Institutions and Proceedings

This module covers practical aspects of reporting on international criminal justice proceedings, why coverage is important and what happens when journalists are drawn into legal proceedings through subpoenas and contempt charges.

Special Issue: Reporters called as witnesses

From time to time, journalists who report on conflict or judicial proceedings may be called to testify before international criminal justice proceedings. Their legal responsibility to do so is unclear, as this is a developing area of the law. The first two short articles below take opposite view on the question of whether journalists should testify. The third concerns the trend of citing journalists who publish protected information from judicial proceedings with contempt.

Key Questions:

Why is news media coverage of judicial proceedings important?

Where can the media obtain information about cases and proceedings, and what are its rights of access to proceedings and documents?

Under what circumstances might a reporter face sanctions for reporting on judicial proceedings?

What are a reporter’s rights and responsibilities if called to testify in an international criminal justice proceeding?

Required Readings (and Watching):

John Vink, “Thirty Years for a Trial,” photo essay, Magnum in Motion. A slide show on the first international judicial proceeding against leaders of the Khmer Rouge for the murder of 1.7 million people 30 years ago. The presentation is an example of how journalists can make stories about the justice process both informative and interesting.

Marlise Simons, “International Criminal Tribunals and the Media,” Journal of International Criminal Justice, 7 (2009), pp. 83-88.

Kemal Kurspahic, “Objectivity without Neutrality,”  Niemann Reports (Spring 2003)

Roy Gutman, “Consequences Occur When Reporters Testify,” Niemann Reports (Spring 2003)

Thierry Cruvellier, “Tribunals and War Crimes Trials: Treatment of the Press,” Nieman Reports (Summer 2008)

Selected Online Resources:

Reporting Justice:  A Handbook on Covering War Crimes Courts, Institute of War and Peace Reporting.What reporters need to know about covering international criminal judicial proceedings, from guidelines for access to courts and information to tips for better story-telling. The appendix includes source documents on International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Justice, as well as examples of court reports.

International Criminal Court web page for the media. It contains links to publications, legal documents and video of proceedings at the I.C.C.