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The Champion

July 2003 , Page 22 

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The Uneasy Alliance Of Attorney and Reporter, Or When Perry Mason Meets Louis Lane

By Richard Stack

Countless news stories are produced daily about aspects of the legal system. Court coverage is evidenced many ways — seven-second sound bites, feature stories with cover photos, in-depth analysis. No matter the account, there is at least one common thread: To unearth the story, journalists gathered information speaking to attorneys.  

When members of these professions meet, it is the lawyer’s responsibility to explain legal issues to the reporter. It becomes the journalist’s job to analyze the information, assess newsworthiness, and distill information into accurate, comprehensible accounts.  

The process isn’t simple. Several variables interact — from the lawyer’s jargon to the reporter’s level of understanding. The dynamics of this transaction are: (1) how do attorneys convey information so that messages are received clearly? And (2) how do reporters translate the data into accurate stories?  

Trends in court coverage compel journalists and lawyers to work together. This is

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