Make trials like a newscast

Dec 27, 2017

Student | Bryce Hanamoto

One of the biggest problems with the trial process is that trials are often long, tedious and boring. Broadcast journalists are good at keeping the attention of viewers because they use many visuals throughout each news show. Courtrooms should use more videos and pictures to attract the attention of the jury so that they do not start to tune out. Good video is shot from a variety of different angles. In a courtroom, there could be a camera that got close-up shots of anyone who took the stand or wider angle shots. Close-ups would be better to allow for jurors to base their judgment of a witness based on the witness's body language.

Another way to retain the attention of a viewer is through teases. In news, teases are meant to catch the attention of a viewer. Judges and attorneys can use teases before breaks so that jurors will want to return to the courtroom. Having theme music for each courtroom can also make going into the court less dull and more exciting. Each courtroom could have music that would play at the beginning of each session instead of a judge hitting the gavel. Teases are used before breaks during a newscast. Similarly, courtrooms should have breaks where fun videos are shown—so that jurors would not get bored. This would make the courtroom more lively and less boring.

Journalists often use their audience to find out what they think about the subject. Although journalists and attorneys have spent years learning and perfecting their crafts, the observers should still have the ability to give feedback and ask questions. Just as journalists should be open to receiving comments from viewers, attorneys should accept questions and feedback from jurors. This can be done through the use of social media. One way would be Instagram Live or Facebook Live in which jurors can comment their opinions while the trial is taking place. They could also be allowed to tweet to the attorney while he or she is speaking to ask questions. Many TV news anchors today go Live during the show and answer questions during commercial breaks.

Another principle of journalism that can be applied to the courtroom is the use of social media in the decision process. Journalists know how to utilize social media to share the most important information with viewers. During deliberations, jurors can log on to Instagram to see recaps of the most important moments of the trial and watch video clips. Then jurors will be able to vote on the outcome of the case with an Instagram story poll that could be seen by the attorneys right away.


Brych Hanamoto, a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Fall 2017 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response being asked how his major, journalism, could improve the trial process.

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