Reporting Civil Litigation on Local Television News
Herbert M. Kritzer
University of Minnesota Law School
Robert E. Drechsel
University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Journalism & Mass Communication
September 25, 2008
William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 96, Version 2a
3rd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Papers (revised)
What is the nature of the coverage of civil litigation on local television news (the most commonly used news source according to a recent survey)? That is the question considered in this paper. Drawing upon newsclips from 2004 (11 media markets around the U.S.), 2006 (9 media markets in the Midwest), and 2007 (9 media markets in the Midwest), we present a brief, preliminary portrait of litigation as seen on television news. We find (a) torts make up a minority of reports, (b) very few verdicts are reported, (c) dollar figures are mentioned in a small proportion of cases but when mentioned tend to be large, (d) silly cases are reported infrequently, and (e) a notable proportion of news reports involve well-known figures from entertainment, sports, or politics. We conclude with some speculations about the implications of our analysis for debates over civil justice "reform."
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: civil litigation, media, news reportingworking papers series
Date posted: May 15, 2008 ; Last revised: September 28, 2008
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