The Iowa Supreme Court is instituting the most sweeping changes to its rules for Expanded News Media Coverage since the program was adopted in 1979.
The amended rules are designed to reflect changing communications technologies and newsgathering practices. Beginning May 1, journalists will be allowed to provide live coverage of Iowa court proceedings using such techniques as texting, Tweeting and blogging, and mobile technologies like smart phones and tablet computers.
In addition, the definition of “news media” representatives allowed to participate in electronic coverage of the judiciary is broadened to include non-mainstream journalists.
The changes are the result of a yearlong review of Chapter 25 of the Iowa Court Rules by a committee that included journalists, judges, a county attorney, a court administrator and a private practice attorney. Iowa Supreme Court Justice Bruce Zager chaired the committee. The court and committee received public comment on the proposed changes and incorporated suggestions into the final recommendation.
“The amended rules continue to allow transparency of court processes while not disrupting court proceedings or interfering with individual rights,” according to the court order changing the rules.
The Supreme Court has sent information about the changes to judges around the state, and the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, the central coordinator of Expanded News Media Coverage, is working with its regional coordinators to educate journalists about the updated rules and procedures.
The Supreme Court order amending the rules, the rules themselves, the new forms and a summary of the changes can be found on the judiciary’s website.
For more information about the changes, contact Kathleen Richardson, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, at 515-271-2295 or firstname.lastname@example.org