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Society of Editors stages latest court reporting roundtable in Birmingham

Posted on: September 12, 2019 by Mariella Brown

The Society of Editors has once again joined forces with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to host a discussion focusing on improving the relationship between the media and the courts in the Midlands.

The roadshow visit to Birmingham is part of a series of events which have been staged around the UK as part of a wider effort to encourage media access to court proceedings.

The lunchtime meeting, held at Aston Villa Football Club in Birmingham, was co-chaired by Executive Director of the Society of Editors, Ian Murray, and Director of Communications at HMCTS, Ed Owen.

Discussion points included how courts could ensure staff are fully aware of the existing media guidelines, for instance ensuring press seats are available and extending the guidance training out to smaller magistrates and youth courts to ensure a consistent service across the board.

Held in association with the Birmingham Mail, the roundtable was attended by court reporters from a breadth of backgrounds and cities in the Midlands. This included representatives from the BBC, Leicester Mercury, Caters News, PA Media, the Nottingham Post, the Derby Telegraph, Stourbridge News and Free Radio.

Ed Owen, Director of Communications for HMCTS said: “It’s been a great opportunity for us to discuss issues relating to media access to courts with local and regional media representatives. It is vital we all work together to promote reporting of our courts as part of building confidence in the justice system.”

The Society of Editors’ executive director, Ian Murray, commented: “Once again this has been a great bringing together of minds from the courts and the media to further improve access for journalists, which can only facilitate better services for the public.”

The roundtable also had a substantial representation from the journalism course leaders of the region’s universities, showcasing the collective commitment of promoting court access to the future journalists in training.

The roadshows are taking place following the production of media access guidelines – produced by HMCTS in conjunction with the Society – for court staff to advise them of the role of journalists in promoting open justice. 

Further roadshows are planned for Cardiff and Manchester later this year.

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