Canadian Forum on Civil Justice

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Various forms of mass media are generally considered to be significant sources of all kinds of public information. Discussions concerning public understanding of and access to the justice system frequently contend that print and broadcast media play a particularly important role in formulating public understanding and opinion of Canadian courts. In the first part of this paper we discuss perceptions about the role of print media in reporting on civil justice issues from the perspectives of the justice community, the media, and the public. We recognise, however, that there is little research about the quantity or quality of media coverage of legal issues, especially civil justice topics. As part of the Civil Justice System and the Public project, a national study of communication between the civil justice system and the public, we have developed snapshots of the extent and content of legal coverage in two newspapers. After presenting observations from this exploratory study we conclude with suggestions for future research and for establishing improved collaboration between the justice community and the media, with the goal of improving civil justice coverage.

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