Courts Continue To Adapt To The Influence Of New Media

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Courts continue to implement rules to control the use of new media like Facebook and Twitter in the courtroom while becoming more approving of the media sending real-time dispatches from court proceedings, according to a survey report released today by the Conference of Court Public Information Officers.

The 2014 CCPIO New Media Survey contains the results of a national survey of judges and court personnel conducted in June. It provides the judicial community in the United States its first year-to-year comparison spanning five years of data unveiling how social media and broader changes in the media industry are impacting state and local judges and courts.

In addition to the survey results, the report details recent developments in the past year including advisory opinions and examples by courts using social media. One example is the D.C. Superior Court and Court of Appeals whose @DCCourtsInfo Twitter handle has one of the largest bases of followers of any court in the country. The entire report is available for download at

The 2014 CCPIO New Media Survey reveals the judicial system is more accepting of the use of new media in the courtroom, but the majority of courts are still slow to embrace new media as they cautiously guard against the risks it presents.

Some of the major conclusions are:

-In 2014, 37 percent of the courts have a social media policy for their courtroom compared to about 29 percent a year ago.
-Social media use by courts is growing. Compared to 2013, Facebook use by courts is up by more than 5 percent; Twitter use increased by 3.5 percent and YouTube by 3.2 percent.
Court officials are less concerned about the media sending messages from the courtroom during proceedings than in past years. A year ago, nearly 66 percent of court officials objected to the media sending messages. In 2014, the gap has narrowed with only 46 percent saying it’s inappropriate and 39 percent permitting it.
-In a complete reversal of opinion, more than 50 percent of court officials believe the media should be allowed, with some restrictions, to take photos and videos of a court proceeding. Only 35 percent object to photos and videos this year, an 11 percent drop from a year ago.

The survey was conducted by the Conference of Court Public Information Officers, an organization of more than 120 communications professionals working in state and federal courts in the United States and worldwide. Partners in the project include the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va., the nation’s leading center for research assistance to the country’s state court systems, and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

More than 9,100 individuals in the court community were invited to participate in the electronically distributed survey. Of the total individuals who completed the survey, 32.5 percent responded they were judicial officers, which is similar to the previous four surveys which ranged from a high of 33.4 percent to a low of 31.4 percent being judges or magistrates.

Dan Trevas is a reporter for Court News Ohio.