ASEKD & ANSWERED: Brian Dailey on KwameTrial.com

By Steve Thorpe

Legal News

The trial of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has generated intense media coverage of a sort seldom seen in southeast Michigan. Traditional media like newspapers, television and radio have followed the story closely and provided their audiences with extensive coverage. In addition, there's now a high-tech source for news about the case. Digital media company Woodward One Media is providing live streaming coverage on a website they created called KwameTrial.com that includes breaking developments from inside the T. Levin U.S. Courthouse, expert commentary, and links to coverage by other media outlets. Brian Dailey is an injury and accident attorney and founder of The Dailey Law Firm. He's also the chief executive officer of Woodward One Media. In addition, Dailey hosts The Law Show on WJR radio on Sundays at 11 a.m.

Thorpe: What was the genesis of the KwameTrial.com project?

Dailey: To talk about the genesis of KwameTrial.com you have to talk about the genesis of Woodward One Media. In 2008, my partner decided he wanted to do his own thing and I took over the radio program. In fall of 2009 I realized I couldn't do it all myself. I had met (now Chief Operating Officer) Dave Scott some years before on another radio project. I said, 'Why don't you come work for me?' He started producing the radio show and made it way better than it's ever been before. Eventually he said, 'I've got extra time, why don't we do this commercially?' We started Woodward One Media, doing websites and live video streaming. It's been a fun, fun thing because it's a diversion from the more humdrum legal practice. It also provides an in-house marketing arm that provides things we need done in that area.

Thorpe: Who do you see as the core audience of your site?

Dailey: Our core audience is just people. Everybody's interested in what's going on in the courts. The courts have created this shroud and mystique. It's like in the "Wizard of Oz" where you're not supposed to pay any attention to the man behind the curtain. I think that's wrong. The process needs to be completely open and transparent. Life is better when the light shines than when there's darkness. Our goal is to bring light to what's going on in the legal profession.

Our unique proposition to the audience is that, while there are other people covering the trial, we are the only lawyers who are covering it. How often do we read something that was written by a non-lawyer and it's rife with errors. We think there's a void there and we're trying to fill that void.

Our strategy is to present the information in layers. We write headlines for consumers, but there's another part of the site devoted to in-depth detail. This is even useful for the mainstream journalists covering the story.

Thorpe: In addition to live updates on the court proceedings, you're offering feature content related to the trial. How did you determine that there would be interest in that content and how did you decide what to offer?

Dailey: The content mix is based on discussions between Dave Scott and reporter Michelle Marentette. We don't want to just hit the peaks and skim the surface. We want to let our audience know what's truly going on. We're trying to get information that's not necessarily coming through just from listening to the trial. For example, reporters are on the eighth floor and the trial is going on on the seventh floor. There's very little interaction between the lawyers and the reporters. The story's not being told. If you read the general coverage, you would think that the government has Kwame on the ropes. But if you listen to the lawyers talk to each other, that's not necessarily so. Take, for example, the expenses from Kilpatrick's "community fund." If you really look at them closely, they seem to be legitimate expenses. And the media gets all excited about the "chilling pad." It's a meaningless thing, really. Some of these things are political problems that need to be addressed in the political arena, not the courts. The case isn't the "slam dunk" that's being portrayed.

Thorpe: You've optimized KwameTrial.com for viewing on devices like smart phones and tablets. Can you tell us about that process? What percentage of your visitors would you estimate are viewing the feed on those devices?

Dailey: More than 25 percent of our visitors are now hitting our sites with mobile devices. Mobile has changed in that it used to require separate programming. You needed to build a conventional site and a mobile site. Now we use what's called "responsive design" where we build a site so that it's flexible and elastic and can function on all devices.

The bottom line is that at the Dailey Law Firm you have to be technically savvy to make the whole digital thing work. There are some other technically savvy law firms in metro Detroit. We thought, "If we're building websites, we're doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization), we're doing live streaming video, we're doing a radio show, why don't we offer that entire suite of services to other lawyers?"

Thorpe: What's your vision of the future for live streaming media from court proceedings? Do you see the attitudes of judges evolving on the issue?

Dailey: The big hurdle is persuading the judges. When Kilpatrick was sentenced by Judge David Groner in the earlier trial, we were the ones who streamed that to the Internet. That was our first courtroom streaming event. Since then, we've tried to get permission from some of the judges. They don't tend to be interested in allowing that and I'm not sure why. I think there's a need for it and that judges should take another look at putting it all out to the general public. If it's a public event for the public record, then make them public.

Our goal is to bring to our users and the general public what's going on in the legal field. There's a real void in the market. Doing radio shows, I get called by people every day with questions about things I take for granted because they're so basic. If we can create a bridge between the legal profession and the public, they won't find the subject so scary. The courts would be less burdened because people would know how to handle their own affairs and they would ask, "Is this case worth pursuing?" It's a way to level the playing field, if you will.

Published: Mon, Oct 29, 2012