Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bloggers' rights coming to Manitoba Law Courts ..... soon?

Good Evening Readers:

Spent a full day at the Law Courts. As fate would have it we found ourself at the end of a long line-up chatting with 4 other journalists from the mainstream media also waiting to enter the courtroom for the Labossiere trial.

By the time we made it to the front all public gallery seats had been taken save for 5 reserved for the Press. The sheriff asked if we had a media pass, however, being a Ma and Pa Kettle operation we didn't. As subsequently explained to two other sheriffs, people like us are Media Citizen Journalists/Blog Masters who cover events and post articles on the internet which the traditional media are free to reproduce since nothing we author is copyright protected.

Felt a twinge of guilt because through no fault of theirs the sheriffs found themselves in a grey area where no policy existed. Regardless, throughout they remained most polite and respectful which we greatly appreciated. The 5th media place became available when the Winnipeg Free Press failed to send a representative so it was offered to us. Presumably had a journalist arrived from that organization we would have been asked to relinquish our seat.

The 5-places reserved had makeshift signs designating them as "Press" something we have not seen previously and hope will becomes a regular feature especially during high profile trials such as the upcoming Mark Stobbe proceeding scheduled to begin Monday, January 30 in Courtroom 120. We have been advised at some point it will be moved to a larger room but we do not know when or where.

Last week (January 18) we sent a copy of our posting, Social media in the courtroom! with a suggestion and received a quick automatic response the intended recipient would not be back in the office until Monday, January, 23. We have yet to receive a reply but are hopeful we will. A copy of this posting has also been sent to the same administrator.

To the best of our knowledge we're the only Blogger regularly covering The Law Courts. Hopefully, there will be others to follow much, much better than us. Our suggestion is one place be reserved among those seats set aside for the Press to include a Blogger.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk

Postscript

After entering the courtroom, a couple staff came by to say they were happy to see we had been given a seat. That made our day!

The poster above is from San Francisco-based The Electronic Frontier Foundation one of North America's leading edge digital law advocates that supports blogger rights.   

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