The English court system

Most criminal cases are dealt with by either the magistrates court or the crown court.

Magistrates court:

In magistrates court you are normally seen by three magistrates, who sit together and decide the verdict. These can be lay magistrates, who are volunteers that are trained for this role, but do not have any legal qualifications.

For more complicated cases they use a district judge, who is legally trained.

Summary offences are only dealt with by the magistrates. This includes crimes such as road traffic offences. They can also deal with ‘either way’ offences, such as drug offences. ‘Either way’ means that it could be seen in either the magistrates or the crown court.

The maximum sentence that can be given here is 12 months for each crime, up to 65 weeks. The maximum fine that can be given is £5,000.

Crown court:

Crown court deals with the more serious cases. The trials are heard by a judge and a 12 person jury.

Although the judges rule on the law and impose sentences, it is the jury that decide whether the charge is proved.

This court has the power to issue the maximum fine or prison sentence.

Coroners court:

This court investigates sudden, violent or unexplained deaths.

This is held in public, and can sometimes have a jury. The verdict from this court can sometimes lead to a criminal prosecution in crown court.

The coroner sometimes needs a witness, and relatives of the deceased can attend and ask any questions they would like answered.

 

Although I have learnt some of this during my law lessons in first year, it was great to refresh my knowledge in this lesson. Also, it covers in more detail how the courts work and who is involved in each.

A knowledge of law is essential if you want to be a journalist, as you need to understand what is going on during cases, as well as what you can and cannot report.

Phone hacking, Leveson and press regulation

Phone hacking is ‘the practice of intercepting calls or voicemail messages without the consent of the phone’s owner’.

The main newspaper to do this was the News of The World. They were accused of phone hacking, police bribery and exercising improper influence in the pursuit of stories to publish. The investigations, which initially lasted from 2005-2007, showed that the paper’s hacking was limited to celebrities, politicians and members of parliament. However…

In 2011 it was revealed that they had also hacked the phones of murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler, as well as victims of both the London bombings and deceased British soldiers.

This led to the closing of the newspaper, as well as several high profile resignations, including the commissioner of London’s Metropolitan police service. The closing of the paper was the first significant effect of the scandal.

Rupert Murdoch, owner of the paper said, “The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself”.

It has now been revealed that other high profile newspaper are paying compensation to ten victims of phone hacking. This confirms that the practice was widespread in parts of the British newspaper industry.

The Leveson enquiry was announced in 2011, aiming to draw recommendations for the future. The enquiry examined culture, practices and ethics of the press, and the relationship between the press, public, police and politicians.

He recommended that newspapers should continue to be self-regulated, and that there should be a new press standards body with a new code of conduct. This would provide the public with confidence and ensures the press are protected from interference.

Party leaders decided that an independent regulator would be established by royal charter, and could only be amended if two-thirds of the majority of the Houses of Parliament agreed.

The industry ignored this, and came up with their own- IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation). all major news publishers have signed up for this, apart from The Guadian and the Financial Times. This organisation is made up of five industry representatives and six from outside the industry.

Although missing this lecture, after reading through the PowerPoint I now understand the phone hacking scandal a lot more clearly. The new admission from the Daily Mail shows that this problem was far more widespread than originally thought, it could be that more publications are found out in the future.

As far as the regulators go, I would tend to trust IPSO more than the one created by the party leaders, as it means that the publications could not be biased towards politicians. However, IPSO is made up of people from the industry, meaning the public might not trust them due to the original problem of phone hacking etc.

Rival regulator ‘Impress’ (Independent monitor for the press) would be, in my opinion, more trustworthy, as they are independent of both publishers and politicians.

Thinglink

This is another website we were shown, which could be used to create an interactive web documentary.
This is a ‘leading platform for creating interactive images and videos for web, social, advertising and educational channels.

Discovery communication and CBS Interactive are included in companies that use the software, and is a great way to engage viewers, keeping them interested in the article.

This website lets you tag parts of photos/ videos, which link to related information.

I think this is a great way to make a normal video more interesting, making you interact with the documentary to find out more information.

Zentrick

As part of my research for my video documentary I’ve had a look at one of the websites we were shown that we could have created the video on if we were to actually make it.

Zentrick is ‘an online platform that drives measureable results for any video by introducing interactive elements that activate, engage and convert audiences’. The videos made can be published on the internet and on social networks, and can be viewed on any device, be it your laptop or your mobile phone.

Although most of the videos on this website are foreign, there are some American and English ones, such as the Wall Street Journal’s video on changing health insurance. This was mainly video, with audio of a reporter over the top. However, throughout the video you had the choice to click on to different pages to find out more information. When you had finished with the information it would take you back to where you left the video, which was good as you didn’t have to start from the beginning.

There were also videos that gave you the chance to buy products from particular brands, with adverts for companies such as L’Oreal giving you the option to buy the products shown in the video.

I think this sort of video documentary is great, as it provides a more interesting way to take in information, rather than just reading an article.

Firestorm- research

I’ve decided to start this assignment by researching different types of documentaries. The first one I have looked at is from The Guardian, named ‘Firestorm’.

This interactive documentary looks at a family who were fleeing from a violent bushfire in Tasmania. This is a human interest piece, but also includes factual sides to the story, including the history of fires in the area, and the science bit of how the fires start in the first place.

When I first looked at this I worked through the story in a linear order, by scrolling down each time I had finished on a page. However, you can look through any chapter by clicking on the menu on the right hand side, meaning it can also be non-linear. This is great if you have less time and just want to read about thing in particular.

Throughout the article it includes several different types of media, including diagrams, audio, video, written text and photographs. This makes the documentary so much more interesting than just reading an ordinary newspaper article. The background music also adds emotion to the piece.
The range of media means they can also add different perspectives to the story. They include videos of the family involved, as well as fire-fighters in the area, making it a more rounded piece.

I really like this interactive documentary, as it manages to give a lot of information without making it boring. I also like how you hear first hand from the family about how it felt, instead of it being told by someone else not involved.

You can find this story here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/may/26/firestorm-bushfire-dunalley-holmes-family

Creative Futures Y2

After missing the first few weeks of second year I’ve started back this morning with Sally for Creative Futures.

After watching a video on investigative journalism, which looked at undercover reporting, I was brought up to date with this modules assignment.

For this assignment I need to explore a prominent figure from Hull, and create a pitch for a proposed feature story based on them, as well as create a pull out feature spread to be featured on the Humberside Online website.

It needs to be media-rich, which means integrating writing, photography, videos and interactive elements, as well as others. As well as this it has to demonstrate how it can be used on different technologies.