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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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