As Sandusky trial nears, Pa. plans courtroom tweeting limits

    The Pennsylvania court system is taking the opportunity of the upcoming Jerry Sandusky trial to set a new rule for how reporters use Twitter in the courtroom.

     

    The move comes ahead of Tuesday jury selection in the child sex abuse trial of the former Penn State assistant coach.

    The new rule allows tweeting from the courtroom, but those tweets cannot be verbatim.

    So, what’s the threshold for a word-for-word quote?

    Can reporters get nabbed for tweeting up to *three* words verbatim from a piece of testimony? Four?

    Pennsylvania court system spokesman Jim Koval says no threshold exists.

    “I don’t know if we’ve parsed it to that level,” he said. “The safest thing to do, from a reporter’s perspective here, is to not broadcast exact quotes.”

    As for concerns that the rule will force reporters to synthesize testimony, instead of letting people’s statements speak for themselves, Koval says it’s a risk the media will have to take to report in real time.

    He adds it’s the first time Pennsylvania courts have attempted to put Twitter feeds in line with existing court rules without an outright ban.

    Court administrators haven’t said how the rule will be enforced.

    But the rule for the Sandusky trial may not set a precedent for other trials.

    The state Supreme Court is still mulling a confidential proposal for dealing with Twitter submitted by a court rules committee.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.