Document Type


Publication Date



Media coverage of legal issues, Pretrial publicity, Crime reporting, Courts and television, Contempt of Court Act, Cameras in court, Media libel litigation


Courts | Law and Society


Although occasional articles on law and the media have been published in Law and Human Behavior, this special issue is the first collection of articles on the topic to appear in the journal. By publishing some of the most recent work on issues in law and the media, we hope to draw the attention of psycholegal scholars to questions in this fertile research area that deserve theoretical and empirical study.

Law and the media have become inescapably intertwined. Because a relatively small proportion of the public has direct experience with the justice system, public knowledge and views of law and the legal system are largely dependent on media representations (Surette, 1984). Indeed, law, crime, and justice are frequent topics of media coverage. A substantial portion of local news pertains to crime and justice, and the legal troubles of our political leaders occupy a significant portion of national news coverage (Graber, 1980). Issues of law, crime, and justice are well represented among the most popular fiction and nonfiction television series and movies. The way in which legal events are covered is also changing. In the United States it is now routine to watch television news broadcasts that include videotaped highlights of ongoing trials, or reporters' posttrial interviews with jurors who have decided controversial cases. Thus the focus of this special issue fits well with the contemporary salience and importance of law and media issues.

Publication Citation

Published in: Law and Human Behavior, vol. 14, no. 5 (October 1990).