Thursday, September 11, 2008

Las Vegas Sun's Faux You-Are-There

I think it's great that the Las Vegas Sun is offering Twitter updates for the O.J. Simpson trial, but I was surprised to see this on their site:

Surprised, that is, because there is no possible way that anyone has been Twittering updates FROM the courtroom. District Judge Jackie Glass has put such a severe restriction on communications devices up there that you can't even bring in your phone or any other remotely useful piece of communications device. Even in my case, where I really need to be in the courtroom because of my hearing disability and my need to use the hearing-assistive devices not available in the overflow media room. I have nobody to babysit my stuff and yet swearing a blood oath never to unsheath my electronics isn't enough to be allowed to just have it with me.

In reality, the Sun is Twittering from here:

It's an unfinished courtroom where journalists are watching the proceedings on a closed-circuit TV feed. It's also, according to fire marshals, a fire hazard of exposed wiring and such, so next week when opening arguments begin we'll have a new berth in some smaller, even less impressive digs.

It wouldn't be not quite as glam, but it would be more accurate for the Sun to say they're Twittering from the courtHOUSE. Court administrator Michael Sommermeyer says the Sun has not had a reporter in the courtroom all week during jury selection.

That said, I'm totally digging the coverage. But, in further evidence that there's not a whole lot of interest in this tawdry mess, only 14 people are following. One of them is me.


Anonymous said...

Wow. What a scoop!
So instead of actually being inside the courROOM, she is down the hall where a live TV feed is showing her everything that is actually going on inside the CourtROOM?
And she's doing that because the judge doesn't allow cell phones, PDAs and laptops inside the courtROOM.
Glad to have that cleared up, Steve.
Thank God you were there for us to hold the Sun's feet to the fire.
They don't pay you enough to do this blog.


Dear Brave Anonymous: She's actually 11 stories below the courtroom, but since you're sitting in the Sun's newsroom, you're forgiven. Either way, it's inaccurate, period, and from your tone it sounds like it's inaccurate on purpose.

You could stand to get a little courage and post your snide remarks under your actual name, but of course you won't. But I will say that I get an awful lot of email thanking me for holding the local media's feet to the fire - not to mention the comments of my colleagues when I encounter them on assignments -- or I wouldn't bother to keep doing it. Carry on, Mr. Anonymous.

Don said...

Well, I think, maybe, just maybe, you are splitting hairs here, Steve.
I don't read "updates from the courtroom" as necessarily meaning that the updates are physically being written in the courtroom, but rather, that they provide information coming from the courtroom.
Maybe that's just me.

Anonymous said...

My gosh, yet another scoop.
Eleven, count'em, 11 stories BELOW the courtroom.
She might as well be in another country. Or at the Mirage volcano! Or at the Hilton Sports Book!
I know they're probably dancing around at the Sun office, looking for the foot cream to deal with the blisters.
Keep up the great work!


Don: Maybe it's a journalist thing. I showed the Sun thing to three different journalists, all national people, separately in the overflow room and asked them if they saw anything odd about it. Each one saw what I did, that it made it sound as though the reporter was IN the courtroom. She's not. And it bugged TV and radio folks more than anyone because they're the ones who would really love to be able to say they were reporting from IN the courtroom.

dsmythe said...


If The Sun had advertised, as you suggested, tweets "from the courthouse" it would have given the impression the reporter was hanging around in the halls or cafeteria and picking up tidbits or gossip from third parties. There is a difference between a blurb advertising trial coverage and the coverage itself. The former requires an extreme economy of words that may not describe the situation exactly but does it better than any other five words.

Once again you are making a bitchy mountain out of a molehill. It's fun to watch, but it isn't really evidence of a person with his head screwed on too tightly.

R-J Guy said...

Dsmythe: I'm with Steve here. What you're saying is that they shouldn't use the accurate phrasing because it would, uh, demean what they're doing? Isn't it the content that matters? You're essentially acknowledging that the way they're phrasing it is inaccurate but that it should be OK because it tricks people into thinking something that isn't true? We're in the news business. We don't futz with the truth just to make it sound better than it is. I can't tell you how many times reporters in my newsroom watch TV news coverage and cringe when they call something an "exclusive" that really isn't. This is like that. It does matter, at least to professional journalists if not to the public accustomed to being lied to.

Denny said...

Hey Steve, you can't let people get under your skin like this. It's the Internet. People are petty, sarcastic and craven. You give them hope and legitimacy by slapping back every time. Do so sparingly is all I'm saying.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the RJ guy, we as the public are getting so used to the media lying to us that we just don't care what they say anymore. Sure, its splitting hairs but it is incorrect information leading "some" if not most to believe this reporter was allowed to bring something that others weren't into the courtroom. Its not the truth and isn't that what we are wanting from our media? Unbiased, balanced reporting of what is happening? If we start to accept what is known as a misrepresentation of the truth then what is the media for...entertainment? Oh right, maybe so. Sad to say. Keep up the good work and call it as you see it.

gregoryzephyr said...

Splitting hairs, yes. But, it's a slippery slope to start exaggerating. If a reporter is in Kuwait, can they say they are reporting from Iraq since it's "pretty close?" Can a corporation have earnings of $2.80 per share but report earnings of $3.00 per share since rounding up "sounds good?"

Anonymous said...

What?!?! Steve has an issue with The Sun!?!?!

They're not saying they have a reporter in the courtroom, they're saying they're bringing updates from the courtroom.

Last I checked the hearing was being held in a courtroom, and that's were updates would come from.

The line is totally accurate.

R-J Guy's wife said...

The intent of the line is to make people think the Sun is IN the courtroom. Most people will think so from reading it. The Sun is not in the courtroom. Therefore, no matter how many times the same Sun journalist anonymously posts on this blog that it's an accurate statement, it still isn't. Sorry, dude. You're too obvious.

Also, the Sun should be thanking Steve. You've now got a whole 21 followers. that's a 50 percent increase from when he posted this -- and praised the coverage!

Anonymous said...

I know I've only posted once, and not from the Sun's newsroom... Sorry, I don't work there, but man is their stuff better than the RJ's.

None the less, the line is totally accurate.