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A Portrait of Local News Reporting of Civil Litigation

27 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2010 Last revised: 14 Jul 2010

Herbert M. Kritzer

University of Minnesota Law School

Robert E. Drechsel

University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Date Written: July 1, 2010

Abstract

What is the nature of the coverage of civil litigation by local newspapers and local television? That is the question considered in this paper. Drawing upon news clips 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 portrait of litigation as locally reported. We find (a) torts make up a minority of reports, (b) very few verdicts are reported, and (c) dollar figures are mentioned in a modest proportion of cases but when mentioned tend to be large. We also find significant differences in the reporting practices of local television and local newspapers, particularly with regard to the types of cases discussed (more torts on television and more cases against government in the newspapers). We conclude with some speculations about the implications of our analysis for debates over civil justice “reform.”

Keywords: litigation, media, civil justice reform, tort reform

Suggested Citation

Kritzer, Herbert M. and Drechsel, Robert E., A Portrait of Local News Reporting of Civil Litigation (July 1, 2010). Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-34; 5th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1633504

Herbert M. Kritzer (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Robert E. Drechsel

University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Journalism & Mass Communication ( email )

Madison, WI
United States

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