The Ohio Supreme Court’s news service this morning is promoting the Conference of Court Public Information Officers’ New Media Survey, released last Monday.
The 2013 CCPIO New Media Survey asked judges and court personnel in all 50 states questions about what they were experiencing with new media such as Facebook and Twitter, what their perceptions were of the changing media environment, and how it affects the administration of justice, according to the report’s introduction. This was the fourth consecutive year that the Conference of Court Public Information Officers has partnered with the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and the National Center for State Courts to conduct the survey, and by far the one having the highest response rate. It paints a picture of judges who see the potential good that tools like video sharing and blogs can do by increasing public understanding of the courts, but who are also very cautious about the potential problems that ubiquitous use of Facebook and Twitter can pose for ethical conduct and fair trials. Twitter and Facebook are now the most popular tools among courts; Twitter most used.
Among the survey’s key findings are:
• Courts are attempting to control communication from the courtroom by developing formal social media policies. (Forty-five states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, reported that they have a courtroom policy regulating at least one social-media tool).
• Most survey respondents agree that mobile devices should be prohibited from courtrooms, and a large percentage believe the general public and litigants should not be permitted to silently communicate in any way from the courtroom.
• On a similar note, a consistent majority believes the traditional news media should be given no preferred status to use social media in the courtroom, including tweeting, texting, sending e-mails, or making audio recordings.
However, when asked whether the traditional news media should be allowed to make video recordings or take photos in the courtroom, the number increased for those who approve. It is likely that taking photos or video from the courtroom is considered more of a mainstream occurrence by the media, and, thus, there must be a clearer understanding of how the photos or video may be used.
• A considerable majority believe judges and court personnel should be educated about new media technologies in order to take advantage of the use of the tools to serve the courts. Further, an overwhelming majority (more than 90 percent) believe judges and court staff should be educated about new media to ensure such technologies do not inappropriately impact court proceedings. The results show a contradiction, however, because a greater number of participants also indicated that social media are not necessary tools for public outreach.
The entire 33-page survey report is available for download Here