Summary

The goal of this project was to assess the impact that reporting has on public opinion and citizens’ knowledge of their basic rights and the legal process. Project investigators recognized that misinformation, and incomplete, over-dramatized media reporting can skew public opinion relative to federal public policy debates. Annually, the Supreme Court rules on 90-100 cases, yet only a handful of these decisions receive extensive media coverage. This study examined the characteristics of court cases deemed worthy of extensive reporting, and chronicled the emergence of the Supreme Court as an increasingly powerful national institution and as a source for news making. The project resulted in a book length analysis intended to educate judges, journalists and citizens about the nature of media reporting, and to propose means of better informing citizens about public policy related rulings.