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On the Beat: Covering the Courts

About This Course

The courts and the U.S. legal system affect virtually every area of American life, ranging from taxes, abortion, elections, crime and free speech to health care, the environment and free enterprise. Therefore, courts intersect with almost every beat in journalism.

In this course you will learn about court beat coverage: understanding and explaining legal jargon, developing sources, finding records and telling a story with depth and accuracy while maintaining sensitivity to the people involved.

In this course, journalists on all beats, but especially the courts beat, will learn how to translate arcane legal rulings into clear language and connect individual cases to the everyday lives of readers and viewers.

What Will I Learn

Upon completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify potential sources
  • Develop sources.
  • Understand the court system
  • Anticipate events before they occur
  • Understand key terms commonly used

Who Should Take This Course

This course is for reporters and editors who want to give their readers simple but clear, interesting and poignant coverage of trials and the legal system

Training Partners

Criminal Justice Journalists

Criminal Justice Journalists

Criminal Justice Journalists is a non-profit, member-supported organization whose goal is to improve the quality and accuracy of news reporting on crime, law enforcement and the judicial system.

Reynolds National Center for the Courts and Media

The Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media — University of Nevada, Reno — dedicates itself to strengthening an independent judiciary and a free press, the safeguards without which there would be no American democracy.