This paper explores media effects on German Criminal Court judges in the age of online communication. Based on the concept of reciprocal effects, which assumes that mass media exert relatively strong effects on the protagonists of coverage, we conducted ten qualitative interviews with judges to explore their consumption, perception, and processing of media content. Findings show that judges strongly followed media reports on their trials, including websites of established journalistic media brands, whereas social media were widely neglected. Media content was mostly criticized and assumed to have relatively strong impact on third persons. Consequently, judges tended to feel anger and loss of control. On a behavioral level, we found situations in which the media can have an impact on a judge’s trial conduct and sentence. These findings point to a collision between the logics of media and criminal trials, which sheds negative light on the mediatization of justice.
online media, media effects, Criminal Court judges, mediatization, qualitative interviews