Massachusetts Courts Allow Citizen Journalists to Register to Live-Blog

    by Joe Spurr
    August 15, 2012

    The information office of the highest court in Massachusetts just launched a new online registration process for citizens and news organizations wishing to use cameras and other electronic equipment to cover court hearings throughout the state.


    The process is a lead-in for amended courtroom media rules that become effective next month. Key changes to Rule 1:19, the state’s cameras-in-the-courtroom statute, include:

    • A redefining of the media to include citizen journalists “who are regularly engaged in the reporting and publishing of news or information about matters of public interest,” and
    • Allowance, with permission of the judge, to use laptop computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices to cover the proceedings, including live-blogging.

    Once a news media organization or individual has registered, the state will return a signed acknowledgment form which must be presented alongside photo ID to courthouse officials if electronic devices would be brought into a courthouse or courtroom.

    Additionally, as is the current policy, the news media must request permission beforehand from the presiding judge to use a pool camera or electronic device in the courtroom during those proceedings.

    The SJC’s amended Rule 1:19 is effective on September 17, 2012.


    Joe Spurr is a multimedia journalist and a web developer. Before coming to WBUR, he was the staff web developer for San Diego’s NPR station, which he helped completely overhaul in 2009. He pioneered the station’s adoption of Twitter and Google “My Maps” which culminated during the 2007 California wildfires, built layered, interactive maps to help track the drug-related murder surge in Tijuana, and produced in a roving, three-person skeleton crew from the DNC and RNC in 2008. Joe is a Boston native, a graduate of Northeastern University, and a former freelance reporter at The Boston Globe.

    This post originally appeared on the OpenCourt blog.

    Tagged: cameras in the courtroom citizen journalists court hearings massachusetts supreme court media opencourt

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