Emerson College Associate Professor Mark Leccese appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Judiciary-Media Committee. Photo/Patrick Farrell
By Molly Loughman
Emerson’s Mark Leccese is the first journalism professor to be appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Judiciary-Media Committee, which has been tasked since 1995 with improving the relationship and understanding between the judicial branch and the media.
“The judiciary should want a respectful professional relationship with the press so that its work is fully and correctly reported, and the press should want a respectful professional relationship with the judiciary so that its work is clear, complete and accurate,” said Leccese, who covered Massachusetts government and politics for 30 years as a reporter and editor before joining America’s top-ranking journalism program at Emerson as an associate professor. “We can work to create a better working relationship between the judiciary and the press that will benefit the citizens of Massachusetts.”
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Judiciary-Media Committee is made up of members of the Massachusetts Judiciary — judges, clerks, and attorneys — and members of the media. Leccese was appointed by Chief Justice Ralph Gants late last year. Emerson alumna and now Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Elspeth B. Cypher ’80, who was appointed to the court in 2017, suggested the appointment of a journalism professor to the Judiciary-Media Committee, said Leccese.
Leccese explained that his midlife career change allowed him the time and resources to research and write about how journalists interact with government, and how journalists and government officials interact with the public. Serving on the Judiciary-Media Committee, which meets quarterly for presentations by members and discussion, will allow Leccese to have conversations with others who have thought and written on the same topic. Leccese, whose term on the committee runs through 2022, said he hopes to conduct some original research and writing for the committee on the relationship between the judiciary and the press.
“Journalists and government officials don’t need to be friends – they shouldn’t be friends. But they should understand the requirements and pressures of each other’s jobs, and the two groups should have a mutual respect when respect is earned,” Leccese said. “The activities of the judiciary are communicated to the people through the press, much more so than the activities of the executive and the legislature [branches], which have formidable public relations machines.”