Iowa may allow more real-time coverage of court proceedings

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Iowa may join a small group of states that allow blogging, tweeting and other electronic reporting in courtrooms across the state.

An advisory committee spent ten months reviewing Iowa’s rules for media coverage in the courtroom, because current rules don’t address electronic devices and posting updates in real-time online.

The committee proposed changes as a result of their review, including expanding the definition of “electronic devices.”  The proposal also adds “live electronic reporting” and its definition to the rules to allow for real-time reporting.  The proposal also adds a definition of “news media” to include “any person who regularly gathers, prepares, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports or publishes news or information about matters of public interest in any medium.”

The new rules allow for no more than five members of the media to use cameras or other electronic devices in the courtroom at one time.  The judge can still ultimately approve or deny a request to cover any court proceeding, but the new guidelines are expected to make the definition of what proceedings may be covered more consistent across Iowa.

The Iowa Freedom of Information Council offers a handbook that helps explain expanded media coverage in Iowa courtrooms.

The proposed changes must undergo a 60-day public comment period, and the Iowa Supreme Court will ultimately approve any changes to existing rules.