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Rod Blagojevich, Coronavirus, Democrats: Your Wednesday Briefing

Rod Blagojevich, Coronavirus, Democrats: Your Wednesday Briefing

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the on Tuesday. We asked the reporter covering the trial and other court veterans to tell us how it’s done.

Jan Ransom had a lot of early starts. Now, she’s waiting for a verdict in the Weinstein case, but during the trial, the line to enter the courtroom in Manhattan Criminal Court stretched down the block by 6 a.m. Once the day’s proceedings began, around 9:30 a.m., she listened closely all day, every day, watching the movie producer’s facial expressions, noting the testimony of the witnesses and recording the reactions of the jury.

In many federal courthouses, cellphones, laptops and recording devices are not permitted, which means reporters must often take notes by hand, then call their editors or other reporters to relay the news.

“You’re back to being a reporter from the 1950s,” said John Schwartz, a Times reporter who previously worked as the legal correspondent for the National desk. “You phone it in and compose it in your head and provide that first bit of information just as quick as you can.”

There are often hours of proceedings that can include long exchanges between lawyers and the judge. Skilled reporters are able to discern important developments.

“It’s 99 percent tedium,” said Ben Weiser, who has covered the Manhattan federal courts for The Times for many years. “But you have to be listening and then suddenly someone will say something, and that will be your lead.”

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Katie Van Syckle wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is the first of a two-part series about a digital underworld of child sexual abuse imagery that is hiding in plain sight.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Things actors memorize (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times’s correspondent Rukmini Callimachi spoke to Elle Magazine about how she considers her clothing and self-presentation when covering Islamic extremism.

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