In two recent posts at Legal Blog Watch (here and here), I wrote about news reporters using Twitter to provide live coverage of trials. After my most recent post, I received a note from Steve Fullhart, reporter and weekend anchor at KBTX Media in Bryan, Texas. Over the last two weeks, he provided Twitter-like live coverage of a trial. Only instead of Twitter, he used his iPhone and an application called Cover it Live to post text and images directly from the courtroom. He explained:
We used a service called Cover It Live, which provides live updates like Twitter, except no limitations on characters. All but the last day of the trial, I actually used my iPhone to blog. I was running my own camera, so a laptop would have been a bit cumbersome, I thought. Our internet director would post incoming questions from the blog that I would answer as the trial went on.
The case itself wasn’t the biggest when it came to the charges, but the man being tried was one of the most prominent community figures in our corner of Texas for years, the executive director of a major non-profit concerned with the arts, accused of stealing money from his organization, as well as money from the City of College Station meant for his non-profit. As a result, we got a huge number of hits on our site over the course of the trial.
This was the first trial I’d covered gavel to gavel (final punishment actually comes Monday). At this point, I think we’ve reached a point where we can’t cover a major trial without a blog.
OK, trial blogs are no longer anything new. Twittering a trial is still relatively new. But covering a trial via iPhone — is this a first?
I note, by the way, that Cover it Live can integrate with Twitter to send updates as tweets. But Cover it Live has the advantage over Twitter of allowing a reader to replay the live coverage after the fact.