We want your feedback! Complete the 2022 Newsletter Subscriber Survey and you can go into the draw to win: 2x $200 vouchers, 3x My APO+ memberships, and a ticket to EIS 2023.
Report cover

Should media coverage affect sentencing?

Media reporting Criminal law News media Sentencing Australia
Attachment Size
Should media coverage affect sentencing? 340.68 KB

In sentencing an offender, courts take many factors into account, such as the seriousness of the offence, the offender’s prior record, their age, whether they pleaded guilty and many others. In Australia, courts do this through an approach known as instinctive synthesis, meaning they consider all the factors that can justify a sentence being more or less severe and then arrive at a final outcome.

The media and the courts have an important and symbiotic relationship, but sometimes their interests can diverge. The media have an interest in reporting on criminal justice matters because they are often stories of considerable interest to their audiences. In reporting on those stories, the media often concentrate their attentions ‘on the exceptional and unusual among serious crimes’, which can lead to ‘intense and often emotive media reporting’ about sentencing.

The aim of this report is to analyse the last 20 years of judicial and academic commentary on media coverage as a sentencing factor in order to assist courts and practitioners in navigating the current case law on the issue. The report finds that most courts appear to take adverse media coverage into account but also that there is significant inconsistency in terms of whether it is taken into account, on what basis and to what extent.

Publication Details
Access Rights Type: