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Newhouse School launches Carnegie Legal Reporting Program
Newhouse School launches Carnegie Legal Reporting Program October 03, 2006Jaime Winne Alvarezjlwinne@syr.edu
The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University has launched the Carnegie Legal Reporting Program to educate future journalists about covering the justice system. The program is supported by a grant from the Carnegie Journalism Initiative of the Carnegie Corp. of New York.
Longtime legal journalist and former executive editor of The American Lawyer magazine Mark Obbie, assistant professor of magazine journalism and media law at the Newhouse School, is program director.
“The program exists to produce smarter, more responsible legal reporting — giving readers and viewers insight into why the law turns out the way it does,” Obbie says.
The Carnegie Legal Reporting Program will help educate students who want to deepen their studies in journalism, public relations or liberal arts; future reporters, producers or public relations professionals who seek to explain the courts, legal cases and law to their publics; and pre-law students or legal studies minors who want to understand the impact of news media coverage on law and justice. It will also offer resources to students whose studies require a better understanding of how journalists cover legal affairs and major legal controversies.
The program will introduce several features in the 2006-07 academic year, including segments in existing Newhouse School reporting courses on legal reporting; a new course in the Spring 2007 semester (News Perspectives on Crime, Courts and Justice) on major news topics in law and how journalists cover them; educational and career advice for SU students interested in the intersection between journalism, law and politics; reporting and research resources for students and professionals, including LawBeat, a legal journalism blog on the program’s website; and public lectures and discussions on legal reporting issues.
Next week, Obbie will launch a pilot project: legal reporting segments in all Newhouse reporting courses. On Oct. 9, he will speak to an advanced reporting class on covering the courts, how reporters get information from courts and lawyers, and the types of stories that civil and criminal courts generate. Oct. 16-17, he will teach a segment to all news reporting classes on how to use legal reporting techniques in any news beat. With the cooperation of the Newhouse School’s newspaper department, these legal reporting segments will be offered to all reporting students every semester.
“In these first sessions, we’ll offer the broadest possible focus, to help all types of journalists understand what to do when legal news occurs on their beats,” Obbie says.
The Carnegie Legal Reporting Program will collaborate frequently with SU’s newly instated Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics and the Media on symposia and lectures. The institute is a collaborative effort of the Newhouse School, the College of Law and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.