NCTJ free e-learning course on court reporting restrictions:

NCTJ launches free e-learning course on court reporting restrictions.

The NCTJ has launched a free, interactive e-learning course on court reporting restrictions, delivered via the Journalism Skills Academy (JSA).

Supported by the Google News Initiative, the JSA is a one-stop shop for journalists at all stages of their careers to develop their knowledge and skills.

This new online course is intended to help journalists who wish to challenge reporting restriction orders which they believe are unnecessary or are simply wrong in law.

It has been developed in partnership with Mike Dodd, who retired recently from his position as legal editor at PA Media, after a 52-year career in journalism during which he also qualified as a lawyer.

Between 2011 and 2021 he was also co-author of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists, the definitive media law guide for journalists and students.

The course is based on Mike’s many years of both advising reporters seeking to challenge restrictions, or mounting the challenges himself.

Mike said: “Journalists are the front line when it comes to defending the principle of open justice – that the public has the right to know what is happening in our courts, which they mostly learn about through media reporting – and I hope this course will help equip them to recognise, and challenge, orders which are wrongly made or unreasonably limit their rights to report.”

Sian Harrison, law service editor of PA Media and co-author of the upcoming 26th edition of McNae’s, said: “Journalists are increasingly relied upon to know the law and challenge reporting restrictions when the need arises – often at very short notice.

“With the expert guidance of Mike Dodd, who has been instrumental in a number of major successes for the media in challenging court orders over his long career, this course will provide a solid foundation for any reporter who needs to stand up and make the case for the press.”

The course examines the open justice principle, the media’s important role in reporting on courts, and contains a nuts-and-bolts guide to deciding on whether you wish to challenge a restriction, and the practical aspects of making the challenge.

It also examines the various discretionary reporting restrictions in detail, with ready-reference guides offering the main points to make when challenging applications for reporting restrictions in a number of frequently encountered scenarios, or restrictions which have already been imposed.

With interactive quizzes and in-depth learning materials, the course is easy to navigate and can be studied independently at any pace, taking around 8 – 10 hours to complete.

Available to study from today, the course is aimed at working journalists who are covering courts.