Gossipy, theatrical, opinionated, personal. That was how the late Dominick Dunne captured what went on in courtrooms. Despite the reality that he was an old print guy, he introduced the conventions which would become part of trial blogging and tweeting.
Before Dunne, courtroom reporting was fairly dry. Intuitively he knew that he could grab and keep eyeballs if he mentioned who sat next to whom, who talked with whom on breaks, and who avoided eye contact with whom.
He also developed diverse sources. Through them he filled out what was happening in the courtroom. X, for example, would give him background information on the plaintiff which wasn't widely known. He bashed through the supposed code of objectivity by sharing his feelings about the players. For instance, he noted that he looked into the eyes of the defendant and saw evil. You bet, Dunne took on the role of the Greek Chorus.
No surprise, the media gave his legal-oriented work big play. Vanity Fair assigned him to the high-profile trials. If it hadn't readers would have rebelled.
For years I had been following Dunne. So, when I blogged the lead paint litigation I already had the template. Gossipy, theatrical, opinionated, personal.