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Judith Wardle challenges call for cameras in courtrooms

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Qualitative researcher Judith Wardle has written to The Times in response to an article by journalist Ben Macintyre in which he advocated broadcasting courtroom proceedings in an attempt to redress the “lack of openness” in British justice. 

Judith’s letter draws on her experience of the use of video cameras in group discussions and qualitative interviews.  She writes: “The presence of cameras changes what people do and say … We know it sets up a dynamic where people believe they are being judged, even criticised. In courtrooms, my concern is that it would make it more difficult for witnesses to come forward, and their replies would likely be less expansive, more superficial and more guarded.”

She continues with the following comment: “In my world, most interviews are now filmed for our clients and this has led to a shifting of power away from researchers to audiences – in our case clients. Our priority is now to entertain clients, where previously our aim was to discover what our respondents thought and felt.”

Ben Macintyre’s original article can be found on the Times website ( although readers will need to register on the site to read the whole piece. The same applies to Judith’s response.

Judith has offered to write an article on the subject for the next edition of the Research Network Newsletter.