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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Last Word

Media Coverage of the Supreme Court of Canada

Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Last Word

Media Coverage of the Supreme Court of Canada

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 highly 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 case, about Aboriginal rights; the Vriend case, about gay rights; the Quebec Secession Reference; and the Sharpe child pornography case. They explore the differences between television and newspaper coverage, national and regional reporting, and the 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 of the most important institutions in Canadian life.

272 pages

Law and Society

Table of Contents


Judgment Day: A Vignette

Introduction: The Supreme Court Under the Media Lens

1 A Year in the Life of the Supreme Court

2 Equal in Alberta: The Vriend Case

3 Court and Spin Country: The Quebec Secession Reference

4 “Sea of Confusion”: R. v. Marshall

5 “Parents Can Sleep Soundly”: The Queen v. John Robin Sharpe

6 Judges and Journalists

Conclusion: Reporting the Supreme Court through a Political Prism

Appendix A: Interview Questions

Appendix B: Method of Analysis -- Coding Instructions and Sample Code Sheet

About the Authors


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