I Am a Camera: Scrutinizing the Assumption that Cameras in the Courtroom Furnish Public Value by Operating as a Proxy for the Public
Cristina Carmody Tilley
Loyola University Chicago School of Law
April 4, 2013
University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Forthcoming
Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 13-10
The debate over cameras in the courtroom has focused almost exclusively on the fair trial cost that may be imposed when cameras film proceedings. Far less attention has been paid to the benefit side of the ledger; that is, whether cameras are effective in realizing any of the public values identified by the Supreme Court as the justifications for public access to court proceedings. Camera proponents and policymakers tend to assume that cameras are beneficial because they allow the public to follow proceedings they could not otherwise attend. That assumption rests on the notion that the broadcast press is a proxy for the public. But communications studies literature suggests that the proxy is a myth. Research indicates that television news reports featuring live footage actually inhibit viewer recall and comprehension of the event being covered. If the broadcast press is not a proxy for the public, it is unclear whether cameras in the courtroom furnish public value. In fact, policies promulgated in reliance on that proxy may be unsound. The Article concludes that policymakers considering camera access rules would benefit from empirical assessment of the likelihood that cameras will furnish public value in order to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the issue.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 57
Keywords: cameras in the courtroom, television news, courtroom access, First Amendment, fair trial
Date posted: April 6, 2013 ; Last revised: May 1, 2013
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