Thursday, 14 January 2010

Will cameras in court mean death of shorthand?

There has been an interesting development in the thorny issue of not taking recording equipment, namely TV cameras, into our courts.

As any newspaper journalism student will testify, after having it repeatedly rammed into their subconscious for the duration of their course, shorthand is vital for in-depth and accurate coverage of court cases.

The skill is rarely, if ever, included in the syllabuses of broadcast journalism courses however so it is, perhaps, unsurprising that Sky News is launching a campaign to overturn the ruling banning photography and video cameras in court.

The legislation dates back 85 years but cameras have been allowed in Scottish courtrooms since 1992, albeit under strict guidelines. Sky News is also planning to start a petition once the general election is over.

Its head John Ryley addressed the Cambridge Union Society on Tuesday night, saying: "There remains one more branch of our democratic system which broadcasting has still not properly penetrated - the courts.

"If the legislature is to be subject to far greater scrutiny so too must the judiciary, so the public can fairly judge the balance of responsibility between them.

"Sky News will be campaigning hard to lift the ban on cameras in courts. We will explore every opportunity to mount a legal challenge against the ban on cameras."

As seen through its battle to bring the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem leaders together for live pre-election TV debates, Sky is an influential body so who's to say they'll fail on this one.

If they do succeed, will it mean dictaphones and other recording devices can be taken into court as well - thus rendering shorthand in this context obsolete?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shorthand is an unnecessary anachronism that has helped perpetuate a closed shop for not-too-bright hacks with nothing else to offer...