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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2007

Quick Pick: "The Last Word: Media Coverage of the Supreme Court of Canada"

Florian Sauvageau, David Schneiderman & David Taras. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2005; 272 pp; ISBN: 978-0-774-81243-6, hardcover $85 CA; ISBN: 978-0-774-81244-3, paper $24.95 CA.
Media coverage of the Supreme Court of Canada has emerged as a crucial factor not only for judges and journalists, but also for the public. It’s the media, after all, that decide which court rulings to cover and how. They translate complex judgments into concise and meaningful news stories that will appeal to, and be understood by, the general public. Thus, judges lose control of the message once they hand down decisions and journalists have the last word. To show how the Supreme Court has fared under the media spotlight, Sauvageau, Schneiderman and Taras examine a year in the life of the court and then focus on the media coverage of four high-profile decisions: the Marshall aboriginal rights case, the Vriend gay rights case, the Quebec Secession Reference and the Sharpe child pornography case. They explore the differences between television and newspaper coverage, national and regional reporting and French- and English-language media. They also describe how judges and journalists understand and interact with one another amid often-clashing legal and journalistic cultures, offering a rich and detailed account of the relationship between two important institutions in Canadian life.

Quick Picks produced from information supplied by publishers.