UK & World News
Pistorius Trial: 'Media Cannot Be Trusted'
In the age of modern media, immediacy is everything. News no longer waits for the printers to roll on the next day's papers.
Instead, it flows out second by second on TV, radio, websites and Twitter - as fast as reporters can relay it.
So is it really possible - or desirable - to slam on the brakes?
After being hailed as the most accessible trial for the media and the public in South African history, the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius temporarily became one of the most restrictive.
The live cameras and audio feed were switched off and reporters were told they could not "live tweet" or blog the evidence, only "paraphrase" it later.
The blackout was prompted by pathologist Dr Gert Saayman who argued that his testimony on the post-mortem examination of Reeva Steenkamp was too sensitive to be heard.
Dr Saayman said the "live streaming" of the evidence would be "disrespectful" to the victim and "against public morals".
The prosecution, the defence, and Judge Thokozile Masipa agreed.
The decision to halt the TV and audio feed was not disputed by the lawyer who was hastily brought to court to argue on behalf of the media.
But Nick Ferreira pointed out the ban on live text reporting from the court - in the form of tweets and blogs - seemed confusing when newspaper journalists could later report the full details.
He also stressed that there had been no application for the case to be heard "in camera" (the details kept private).
It has long been a rule of court reporting that directly quoting the witness is permissible, but even this seemed to be banned.
So the reporters in the court were left tweeting the response to the pathologist's evidence - Mr Pistorius' distress and vomiting - while having to wait to document the testimony itself.
There is no doubt that Twitter - with its required brevity and immediacy - is a rather 'blunt tool' of journalism.
But, driven both by news organisations and public demand, it has become an accepted part of modern court reporting and the journalists are still guided by accuracy and taste.
By their very nature, murder trials are distressing, but does halting instant reporting make them less so?
Should the public only be subjected to a delayed, sanitised version of events or the detailed facts as they unfolded?
At the heart of the debate is whether truly open justice is desirable at all.
The judge in the Pistorius trial, a calmly authoritative figure, has now made it clear where she stands. The restrictions are only temporary, for specific evidence, and the live TV coverage, along with the tweeting, will soon resume.
But the precedent has been set and with it comes the clear message that the media cannot be trusted.
What is less clear is where this leaves the South African public, gripped by the biggest trial in recent history.
How does limiting their free flow of information from the court fit with the pledge of ensuring that justice is "seen to be done"?
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