Court Community Communication

The Media and Media Relations

Curriculum Guideline Five

Court leader relationships with the news media must be positive and proactive.  Courts should have a media plan to promote public understanding and respect through the news media.  This includes having systems in place to respond to media inquiries in a timely manner.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Knowledge about the daily workings of the news media including print, broadcast, and “new media” delivered through the Internet, and the demands and constraints on management and reporters from each medium;

  • Ability to develop a court “media plan” to establish a productive working relationship with reporters, editors, news directors, and editorial page staffers for routine coverage of the courts, crisis coverage of an acute situation, and promoting accurate and positive information about the courts;

  • Ability to assemble a working advisory committee of judges, court officials and news media to assess the regular needs of the news media and the capabilities of the court to meet those needs;

  • Knowledge of free press versus fair trial issues, related constitutional, statutory, and case law requirements, and what they mean for both the press and the court;

  • Skill in putting court actions and decisions into context;

  • Skill in responding to the media and organizing the court when it is faced with the high-visibility, extraordinary case;

  • Ability to be an effective interviewee of both print and broadcast media and to enhance the credibility of the court and its leadership;

  • Ability to provide incentives for accurate and stellar reporting of court news;

  • Ability to decide who is going to speak for the court on what issues and to make sure that these decisions are respected by the entire court family;

  • Knowledge of when, with whom, and how to be on or, when occasionally required, to go off the record;

  • Ability to use the news media to promote positive information about the courts and the legal system without going through reporters to do so;

  • Knowledge of how a court can work closely with the news media to supply appropriate information without compromising the judicial process.

View the Summary of Court Community Communication Curriculum Guidelines or click on each of the six Curriculum Guidelines to see the associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

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