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SPJ requests cameras allowed in courtroom for Trump's DC trial


Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, SPJ National President, ashanti.blaize@gmail.com
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Specialist, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists requests that cameras are allowed in the courtroom for the trial in United States v. Donald J. Trump. SPJ today joins 19 other media organizations in an application to the federal court for audiovisual access to the trial proceedings. The group also sent a letter to the Judicial Conference today seeking amendment to the rules prohibiting cameras in the courtroom.

Former president Trump has been indicted for conspiring to obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential electoral vote in Congress on January 6, 2021. The indictment, pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the first against a U.S. president concerning actions taken while in office.

“This is a historical story that impacts the very fiber of our Democracy,” said SPJ National President Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins. “The public has a right to know how this case unfolds in real time. The only way to ensure this is to allow cameras in the courtroom during the trial.”

The American public has shown interest in the events of Jan. 6. Over 20 million people watched the first prime-time hearing of the House Select Committee’s investigation into the attack, and the indictments against Trump have garnered significant attention from traditional media outlets and the public on social media.

Furthermore, during a time of increased misinformation on social media, it is important for the public to witness this historic trial firsthand. Full video coverage increases the public’s confidence in the judicial process and allows for clearer fact-checking. Plus, previous high-profile trials that have been televised, such as Derek Chauvin’s, have earned widespread praise and helped the public better understand what is happening in the courtroom.

“This case is of interest to all American voters still struggling to make sense of the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath, and who have an opportunity to vote for or against Trump should he become his party’s nominee in the 2024 presidential elections,” said the letter to Judicial Conference Secretary Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf.

Today, 49 states and the District of Columbia either permit journalists to capture proceedings on their own cameras, authorize courts to provide video or audio webcasts of proceedings, or both, in state courts.

It’s important that the federal court in the District of Columbia allow full access for the trial in U.S. v. Trump. The American public deserves to see for themselves what is happening in the courtroom.

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