“Interview the judge, please.”

Yesterday, a Fulton County jury convicted Chiman Rai of hiring a hit man to kill his daughter-in-law. A gaggle of TV reporters– local and national– has spent more than a week covering Rai’s capital murder trial.  In their honor, here’s a list of some of the silliest questions they’ve been asked by their producers and managers back in the newsroom, bless their hearts.

  1. When will the jury come back with a verdict? (Answer: There’s no way to know.)
  2. Will the jury convict him? (Answer: See above.)
  3. What was the jury’s reaction to a particular piece of testimony? (Answer: TV reporters are encamped in a room watching a TV feed of the testimony. The camera isn’t allowed to shoot pictures of the jury.)
  4. Why are you watching a feed? Why aren’t you in the courtroom? (Answer: Because you want me on TV at noon, 5 and 6, I have to watch the time codes of the feed so I can continually produce TV pieces).
  5. Is the court recessed for lunch yet? (Answer: I don’t know. I’m outside from 11:30am to 12:15pm producing a story for noon. Did you send a producer to cover for me? Didn’t think so.)
  6. What a cushy gig, sitting in court all day. Did you have a leisurely lunch? (Answer: See above. I had to spend the lunch hour in the media room watching material that my machine recorded while I was gone for the noon show.)
  7. Can we talk to jurors after the conviction? (Answer: Following a guilty verdict in a capital murder trial, the jury remains empaneled to hear testimony in the penalty phase of the trial. Then the jury decides whether to send the convict to death row or to prison for life. Reporters can’t talk to jurors while they’re empaneled.)
  8. We want you to interview the judge. (Answer: It never happens. Ask Hilton Fuller, the judge in the Brian Nichols case who had to recuse himself after an off-the-record comment ended up in print.)
  9. Will the defendant give us an exclusive interview? (Answer: Highly, highly unlikely.)
  10. Can you ask anyway?
  11. Will the jury talk to us after the sentencing verdict? (Answer: It depends. Juror interviews are almost always enlightening. As a result, TV crews cover the entrances to the courthouse and will literally chase jurors to their cars seeking comment. Occasionally, a group of jurors will conduct civilized interviews at the close of a case. But one almost never knows until the case is over.)
  12. Will the jury foreman do a sit-down interview with our nightside crew?
  13. Will the victim’s family do a sit-down interview with our nightside crew? Could you set that up for us in your spare time, please?
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Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

3 thoughts on ““Interview the judge, please.”

  1. Austin Rhodes

    All editors/producers/news suits should have to do two weeks in the field every six months, just to remember what it is like out there.

    If you haven’t been a reporter dealing with politicians and even civilians in a post YOUTUBE/reality TV/9-11/Michael Moore atmosphere…you have no idea what the street reporter deals with these days.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Unanswerable questions « live apartment fire

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