Research and anecdotal complaints have focused attention on the strained relations between the legal profession and the media. Antagonism between the professions can result in superficial, biased and inadequate coverage of the courts and legal affairs, a consequence all the more damaging because the American public gets information about the law more frequently from news than from schools, libraries or direct contact with the court system. This study examines how lawyers and judges in a large urban community (Chicago) perceive the coverage of legal affairs. The results do not dispel the perception that the legal profession, particularly the criminal defense bar, is dissatisfied with media coverage, but they question whether the strain is overdramatized. The findings indicate that lawyers and judges are significantly more critical of sensationalized reporting than of media interference with fair trials, biased coverage or inaccuracies. The evidence suggests that even those lawyers and judges who find fault with the coverage are willing to cooperate with reporters and that contact between reporters and those in the legal community tends to improve the media-source relationship.
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