#JohnsonTrial unfolding on Twitter
Some are calling the rape trial involving former University of Montana Grizzly quarterback, Jordan Johnson, 'trial by Twitter.'
People across the country have been watching it unfold, live on the social media site.
Since the trial started earlier this month, I’ve sent over 600 tweets with the hashtag #JohnsonTrial. There are typically close to ten reporters who fill a front row section in the courtroom, all equipped with smart phones or laptops (usually both) providing live updates.
This might be the first time Montanans have seen a trial unfold in a play-by-play manner like this, but it's not a new concept.
NBC Montana looked to see how some other states have handled trials and tweets.
In 2010 a Connecticut triple-murder trial got national attention. Cameras weren't allowed in that courtroom but Twitter was. People followed gruesome details and a verdict online. But in a 2012, high-profile, triple murder trial, in Chicago, the judge wouldn't allow reporters or the public to use Twitter at all.
It's controversial. And part of that has to do with the snippets of information, only 140 characters at a time. Some judges worry it provides information that could hinder the right to a fair trial.
“It's interesting because we read it and interpret it one way, whichever way we want to. And then you talk to someone who maybe sat in the courtroom all day and it's a totally different story,” said avid Missoula tweeter Brint Wahlberg.
Wahlberg follows the Johnson trial coverage religiously on Twitter and he’s not alone. He says lots of people are following it, talking about it, and getting hooked, even his dad.
“He’s like I’ve got an addiction and its following #JohnsonTrial on Twitter,” said Wahlberg.”It's interesting because I think people want this information.”
Wahlberg said it's become part of his daily routine to keep up on the coverage.
“Throughout my day I'm up on the computer and I've got one of my tabs open, I've got #JohnsonTrial just rolling,” Wahlberg said. “It will say five new posts and so I'll click over and then I click back to the work I'm doing.”
And analysts think Twitter is more than just a fad, some say it's changing the way people get their news. In what's become an ongoing debate over trial by Twitter, tweet by tweet.
You can follow NBC Montana’s coverage of the #JohnsonTrial here.