A New Kind of Journalism and Citizen Involvement

It’s become a fashion of late to write about the effect the Internet had on journalism, and the way people get informed. Usually the discussion revolves around blogs, twitter, how the newspapers are dying, and so on.

I’d like to point out something different that I’ve observed of late.

It started a few weeks ago, with the story of judge Drori. He acquitted a man who ran over a the clerk at the parking lot, because she refused to let him leave without paying, and stood in the way of his car. After reading the story, and the actual court ruling, there was a public outrage. Judge Drori wrote a ruling of about 300 pages, where he explains the acquittal. Many people commented about the ruling itself, its length, the reasons given in it and so on.

The second story is about the farmer Shay Dromi, who was acquitted today of killing. Two years ago, two Bedouin burglers broke into his farm at night, poisoned his dog, and then went about their business of stealing his property. At least they would have had Dromi hadn’t noticed them, confronted them, shot one to death, and wounded the other. This was amid a wave of crime and break-ins at the area, while the police weren’t doing much to stop that wave. As I said, Dromi was acquitted, the ruling was also published, and many people commented on the subject.

Now we can get to the point: usually, acquittals or convictions of the “small” people don’t merit much press. Judge Drori’s ruling probably would not have reached that publicity if he wasn’t up for a seat at the supreme court. Dromi’s story was publicized heavily a few years back, and the Knesset even changed the self-defense law because of this case.
However, the publishing of full-text rulings is new. Except for a case I was personally involved in, I never read court rulings. I don’t really know a lot about law.

Having these two stories published online, and not only in print, allows publishers to link to the full rulings. Newspapers will never come 300 attached pages of dense law text.
Yet online it’s easy as creating a link – and just like that, you have citizens reading rulings, understanding court processes, having opinions, commenting, and getting involved.

I find this amazing, and it makes me optimistic. The times are a-changing.

3 replies on “A New Kind of Journalism and Citizen Involvement”

Until some wise MK decides that court rulings shouldn’t be published anymore because of national security / privacy / respect towards the courts / protecting the judges / saving money for some more government hand outs.

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