Date of Award

12-2006

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Mark Kelley

Second Committee Member

Shannon Martin

Third Committee Member

Eric E. Peterson

Abstract

Since the explosion of television broadcasts of high profile criminal trials began in 1994, controversy has surrounded electronic access to courtrooms. Research done by Podlas (2001), Paul (1997), and Harris (1993), suggests that broadcasting trials to the viewing American public serves as an irreplaceable tool in educating the public on the functions of the United States judicial system. The present study focuses on the results and analysis of an attitude and perception survey. The survey questioned Maine residents about how often they watch courtroom programming and what effect the viewing of Court TV has on their understanding of and confidence in the U.S. judicial system. Following the standard set by the Times Mirror Center for People and the Press (2004) survey and the 2005 Administrative Office of the Courts, California survey, the study at hand employed a mass mailing survey to determine respondents' opinions on state level courts and how these opinions shape confidence levels in the system as a whole. The results suggest that Maine residents deviate from the national norm in that they do not watch large amounts of courtroom programming, therefore basing their opinions and confidence levels in the judicial system on other factors.

Share