The Supreme Judicial Court this week approved a new rule that for the first time will let "citizen journalists" photograph trials and other court proceedings on a routine basis.
The new rule, which takes effect July 1, will let people who fall under a new, broader definition of "news media" to register with the court system for photography access to courtrooms. They'll have to sign a statement agreeing to certain conditions (for example, no photographs of jurors).
The justices expanded their definition of news media to include "organizations that regularly gather, prepare, photograph, record, write, edit, report or publish news or information about matters of public interest for dissemination to the public in any medium, whether print or electronic, and to individuals who regularly perform a similar function."
Judges will continue to have the right to bar all recording devices from hearings - and the right to allow photography access to people not accredited by the court system.
The rule continues a limit on the total number of cameras in a courtroom at one time. As traditional photographers have long done, bloggers who arrive at a court hearing will have to decide who gets to photograph the session - and agree to share his or her work with the others.
Under the new rule, reporters and bloggers will be allowed to take laptops or smart phones into the court room to take notes or write stories, provided they don't disrupt the proceedings.
Ed. note: I served on the subcommittee that helped draft the new rule.