High-profile murder trial expected to ignite heavy media coverage

In 2008, the story of a “bizarre” murder in Edmonton made big headlines and received intense media scrutiny. The subsequent police investigation led to the first-degree murder charge against 31-year-old filmmaker Mark Twitchell. Now, Twitchell’s trial is expected to attract heavy media interest.

The Edmonton Journal reports:

“In September 2009, the attorney general’s office signed off on a direct indictment in Twitchell’s case, meaning the case would not go through a preliminary hearing where some evidence would have been presented.

“The publication bans that have been in place have resulted in minimal coverage in the United States since Twitchell’s arrest, said one American news producer, although that is likely to change once the trial starts later this week.”

Canadian court reporting has charged into the digital world, most notably with the to-the-second live coverage of the sentencing of convicted rapist-murderer Russell Williams. Here’s some of the stories J-Source wrote about the new reality of court reporting:

Has coverage of Col. Williams gone too far? Or not far enough?: Canada hasn’t seen a case like Col. Russell Williams since serial rapist and killer Paul Bernardo commanded headlines in the early 90s. In the days since the judge lifted a ban on Blackberrys and laptops, coverage of Williams’ hearing has exploded online and in Toronto’s dailies, leaving some people to ask: how much does the public need to know?

How to live-report depravity and move on with your life: Live coverage of the Russell Williams’ case had reporters making on-the-fly editorial and ethical decisions while facing a horrific barrage of images and information. Now that the sentencing is over, six reporters tell us how they’re coping.

One reporter’s trial: A cautionary tale from CBC Radio reporter Dave Seglins on the consequences of a sleepless week covering the sentencing of Russell Williams.

When j-students cover a killer:
Two second-year Loyalist College j-students, Trish Allison and Nicole Kleinsteuber, on what they learned from covering the sentencing of admitted rapist and murderer Russell Williams. Lesson one: dealing with guilt.