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Courts and the media in the digital age

Key politicians, judges and journalists from around the country will take part in a symposium at Bond University on Saturday, February 12 to consider the impact of new communication forms on the media’s coverage of the courts and justice.

The Director of the Centre for Law, Governance and Public Policy at Bond University, Professor Patrick Keyzer, said the event would bring together the key players who manage and filter information from the courts, and consider issues that go to the heart of Australian democracy.

The Chief Justice of Queensland, the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, the Chairman and Chief Executive of News Limited Mr John Hartigan, and Senator George Brandis the Shadow Attorney-General, are among those taking part.  Prominent journalists Richard Ackland, Chris Merritt and Damien Carrick are also participants.

“In the last 10-12 years the rise of the internet and social media has revolutionised how people get their information, including about the government and the courts. This symposium will reflect on the changes of the past ten years and consider what might happen in the next ten,” said Professor Keyzer.

Professor Keyzer said the full-day’s program would focus on the role of court information officers, trial by media, suppression orders and whether the rise of social media like Facebook and Twitter has made the control of information impossible.

“The courts are sometimes criticised for their increasing control and restriction of the information they supply to the public,” said Professor Keyzer.

“The courts make such orders to protect the right to a fair trial: to suppress prejudicial details of criminal trials, to prevent trial by media and avoid jury contamination.  But the public and juries are savvy to social media, and are perfectly aware that suppressed information is being published in other parts of Australia and is accessible online.

“Suppression of information flies in the face of the public’s right to know. But the right to a fair trial is critically important. We have an outstanding group of presenters at the symposium, and we hope to advance some new solutions,” he said.

The symposium will be recorded for podcasting. 

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