Jackson Adams is a publicist at UNP who wants you to subscribe to your local newspaper.
I spent a significant percentage of the first six years of my professional life in courtrooms. I worked as a crime reporter, which meant that when I wasn’t checking arrest records, talking to bereaved family members or spending hours juggling phone calls, I was sitting in courtrooms.
Covering court proceedings is a difficult job but arguably the most important part of crime reporting. It often requires hours of waiting, note-taking, and careful writing and editing, where the cost of making errors is very high. Still, it’s when many of the most important details of a case are released and can be shared with the public. Telling those stories clearly and precisely is one of a journalist’s greatest responsibilities.
It wasn’t always so easy to tell those stories though. Justice in Plain Sight: How a Small-Town Newspaper & Its Unlikely Lawyer Opened America’s Courtrooms (January 2019) by Dan Bernstein illustrates the struggle that the Press-Enterprise newspaper of Riverside, California undertook in order to make sure reporters could cover even the most harrowing of crimes.
It’s a fascinating, little-told story that’s particularly illuminating if you’ve ever sat in the back of a courtroom, notebook in hand. For those who don’t have quite as much first hand experience, Justice in Plain Sight is a look back at what newspapers have done best, fighting passionately, and relentlessly for the people in their community.