Leveson: Public Inquiry by tweet – Judith Townend

15 11 2011

Monday marked “a minor landmark for open justice,” claimed blogging barrister Adam Wagner, on the UK Human Rights blog. “For the first time, a public inquiry is being shown live over the internet”.  As Wagner pointed out, the Chilcott Inquiry was also broadcast live (and tweeted about) but unlike Leveson it was not a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005.

Lord Justice Leveson’s Inquiry, which held its first “Module One” hearing on Monday, will be live streamed on the internet, via the Inquiry’s newly relaunched website. The live video can be found here.

Video and audio feeds are also being made available for television broadcast. Journalists are permitted to tweet from the courtroom, which is open to the public. There is also an overflow room with a screen broadcasting the hearings, from which observers can also tweet.

The Inquiry’s website includes information about the People involved; Hearings; Evidence; Rulings; Key Documents; Events; and Attending the Hearings. An FAQ can be found here. The site’s clear navigation and the Inquiry’s proactive and fast release of documents help both legal transparency and public involvement.

Of course, when following the #leveson and #levesoninquiry tags on Twitter it is impossible to distinguish between the tweets sent live from the courtroom, tweets sent by people watching the livestream, and tweets written by anyone with an interest but not actually watching. A lot of the tweets link to mainstream newspaper articles about the Inquiry. Additionally, related commentary from other simultaneous events – the Society of Editors conference for example – gets caught up in the stream too.

That doesn’t really matter – you can scroll through tweets to get a sense of what occurred and what people find interesting. But it doesn’t necessarily show an accurate live report.

For that, it’s best to look at dedicated Twitter accounts. Index on Censorship has set up its own @indexleveson account for that very purpose. The Hacked Off campaign can be found at @hackinginquiry. Other noteworthy tweeters include: the FT’s @benfenton; the Guardian’s @jamesro47; and the Hacked Off campaign co-ordinator @selkie. Please suggest others in the comments below.

Tweets from Monday can be viewed in this Cover It Live blog.

This ‘Storify’ story shows some of the tweets published on the first day. It’s only likely to get noisier.   Topsy currently shows about 2,608 tweets about ‘Leveson’ in the last day

Judith Townend is a freelance journalist and PhD researcher examining legal restraints on the media, who runs the Meeja Law blog. She is @jtownend on Twitter.


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16 11 2011
The media regulation party continues… | Media law and ethics

[…] are two new posts over on the Inforrm blog, covering events this week. One on how Leveson Inquiry is open to all via livestream and tweet; the second reports last night’s Media Society debate at Westminster University, ‘The […]

21 11 2011
Law and Media Round Up – 21 November 2011 « Inforrm's Blog

[…] The Leveson Inquiry has embraced multimedia communication, with its useful website livestreaming all hearings live. The hearings page contains video archive and transcripts. The Inquiry also joined Twitter this week (@levesoninquiry) – it quickly gained over 400 followers, but had only tweeted once at the time of writing, announcing this week’s Witness List. Inforrm discussed Twitter’s role in the public inquiry at this link. […]

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