Covering courts without pictures

QUESTION: What’s the best way for a television news reporter to cover a court case, since cameras aren’t normally allowed in courtrooms and we need pictures to tell stories? Do you have any tips for handling the “lack of video” issue?

Answer by Kelly Dehn

It’s especially difficult to cover court cases without being able to have cameras in the courtroom, and it has impacted our decision making when it comes to the issue.

Sometimes we may have good “scene” visuals of the incident the court case is based on, and we rely on the use of graphics to quote the participants inside the courtroom.  This helps us put the story together, but nothing replaces being able to record what lawyers and judges are saying.  Courts in Manitoba have been getting better at releasing exhibits which sometimes include videotaped statements or confessions.  But even this isn’t done on a consistent basis.

Sometimes, when there is no video, but the issue is of importance, we will just go to a reporter live in front of the courthouse to go over what was said in court that day.
Courtrooms are black holes for television journalists, but my hope is, that by the time I retire, cameras will be allowed inside.  I think judges are slowly warming to the idea.
Kelly Dehn is the crime and courts reporter at CTV News Winnipeg.