The top leader in today's Times celebrates the Justice Secretary's decision to open family courts to reporters. This is a crucial reform, long overdue and of significance to all who care about freedom of speech and a journalist's duty to hold power to account. Of course, the main beneficiaries will be families, for whom future risk of serious miscarriages of justice will be diminished by the new transparency. Ah, I'm giddy on the oxygen of truth.

 This is a victory for the Times which has campaigned on the issue. It will open many new opportunities to reporters and editors. Given the issues involved in family cases, court reporting may even become popular again. Now I am getting giddy.  


It is good news and, as Tim says, long overdue. Although the Times leader points out that some social workers feel daunted by the scrutiny under which they may be put, plenty of their colleagues believe that a more open system will shed light on the tremendous pressures they face. A better informed public may be more sympathetic to the importance of their role. 

Reporting these cases will require well-trained journalists who have the skill to turn the cases they see into compelling journalism without compromising the anonymity of the children at the heart of them. 

Ian Reeves is head of the Centre for Journalism

Definitely an important event. However, I wouldnt count on this changing the public view of social workers. It has been pummeled to a large extent already and so far, most newspapers have created the image of using post- and pre-trial or other evidence (do correct me if I'm wrong). Like Tim said, this will generally allow more transparency to the long-hidden judicial system and hopefully provide more fairness to it (if it has little, at the moment - do not have proper knowledge of this).

Into a Closed World