BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
Media personnel are on a three-day refresher workshop on court reporting, starting yesterday.
The workshop is an initiative by the media association of Solomon Islands to improve on how journalists report on court cases and other court-related matters.
It is funded by the Australia Broadcasting Corporation International Development through its programme, PACMAS.
One of the country’s most experienced journalists, Ms Dorothy Wickham is the facilitator.
Public Solicitors started off day-one presentations represented by their legal advisor, Alan Watson, and senior officer William Kadi.
Mr Watson explained the importance of the courts, outlined its history in relation to historical developments in the United Kingdom, relayed the procedures of the court and defined and simplified common jargons used in the courts.
Mr Kadi contextualised technical terms and processes of the law and courts using case studies on few past cases in the country.
Both incumbents gave guidelines to the journalists on how and when to safely and accurately report court stories according to the tight daily schedules of their newsrooms.
Associate Professor Dr Shailendra Singh, USP School of Journalism, gave an online talk via zoom on media ethics and media laws.
He stressed the importance of having more of such refresher trainings, encouraging media in the Solomon Islands to offer more for local journalists.
He adds that this refresher training is the first in a long time.
Mr Singh hit home on the vital roles that media laws and ethics play, though being separate entities, saying that without them, the media industry and individuals will be handicapped.
He urged journalists to always stick to media ethics and abide by media laws, avoiding professional breach by all costs, which he warns has “far-reaching consequences”.
He reminded journalists that each has a reputation to protect.
Charmaine Rodriguez – Pacific Governance and Freedom of Information Expert, capped off the day offering participants with techniques on how to ensure that they are reporting safely, accurately and balanced.
She encouraged reporters on the specialty of court reporting, highlighting that the job informs public on cases which are of particular importance or interest.
She provided a new concept, commonly called the ‘Harms test’, which allows reporters to know whether their story is okay to be published or not.
She urged court reporters to always “weigh the benefits of disclosure against the harm that it would cause” before publishing.
Participants share that day-one has provided a lot of insight into the specialised branch of reporting on court matters, adding that many things presented by the experts are eye-openers.
Day-two of the refresher training begins 9am today at the Heritage Park Hotel conference room.