Top tips for trainee reporters covering court cases

There are few more daunting assignments for a rookie journalist than being asked to cover a court case for the first time.

The lucky ones will have the privilege initially of shadowing a more experienced reporter as they sit on the press bench at either a magistrates’ court or a crown court.

But, with fewer resources available in modern day news rooms, trainees are increasingly asked to report on cases armed with just their study notes from college or university and a few brief words of advice from a senior journalist.

UK magistrates courtroom

Knowing the law as it applies to what can be reported is absolutely vital because getting it wrong can lead to expensive punishments for the newspaper or broadcaster you work for.

McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists should never be far from the fingertips of a trainee reporter tasked to cover the courts.

The up-to-date version of the book will tell you everything you need to know about journalism law but what do you actually do when you arrive at court and what are the protocols media representatives have to observe inside the building?

I give the lowdown on all of this in my new book – How To Become A Journalist – with a whole chapter devoted to giving advice to trainees reporting court cases.

You will find a series of top tips telling you exactly what to do inside the courthouse, how you get information, who you are allowed to talk to and when, plus the sequence of events which all cases go through.

Barrister in court

The chapter also gives advice for trainees and aspiring journalists on how to report on inquests and council meetings, which can also be intimidating when you start out in the profession.

My book is available as a paperback or eBook HERE .

And if you are an aspiring journalist, a student or a trainee and you have any questions about how to cover court cases then feel free to email me at

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