No Cameras, Twitter Allowed in Cosby’s Trial

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Don’t expect the Bill Cosby trial to saturate the airwaves or your Twitter feed. There will be no cameras allowed and reporters who tweet during court are being threatened with jail, NPR reports. By contrast, the murder trial of O.J. Simpson two decades ago was a television sensation. Cameras were rolling from opening statements to the dramatic reading of the jury’s not guilty verdict. The Cosby trial may be remembered for the opposite: no photographs, video or even live tweets of the court drama. And as Bobby Allyn of member station WHYY reports, don’t expect to follow along on social media.

See also: Cameras And Courts—A Project Destined To Fail?

Deanna Durante of NBC 10 in Philadelphia says, “We’ll be … hearing all kinds of facts, hearing the stories of witnesses, watching his reaction, watching the jury’s reaction. And we can’t do anything with that information until midday.” In Pennsylvania, filming and shooting still photography is always banned in the courtroom. Forcing reporters to disconnect from the internet is  stricter than usual. Temple University law Prof. Kathy Stanchi says the social media ban is within the judge’s right. “You’re probably dealing a little bit with the fear of the unknown potential of new technology,” she says. Court officials say witnesses may have privacy concerns. There’s a fear that some would try to perform for the live audience. Stanchi says the judge is trying “To avoid making the trial into some kind of prurient entertainment circus for the public.” Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press thinks it’s wrong that the public will not get live Cosby updates. He says, “It seems like almost an artificial barrier when we’ve got this very natural, straightforward way to monitor trials … by electronic coverage.”

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