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Media Law & Ethics (370-0-21)


Benjamin A Holden

Meeting Info

Fisk Hall 111: Mon, Wed 9:00AM - 10:20AM

Overview of class

This course examines U.S. media law in the broader context of U.S. Constitutional law, employing the Socratic Method of teaching through inquiry during classroom discussion. We will learn basic legal vocabulary terms in order to facilitate lively debate and understanding of the material. The course relies on the case method - reading actual judicial opinions to derive the legal ‘rule' that governs various media law disputes - in order to allow students to obtain the most realistic picture of the law obtainable by non-lawyers. Students will engage in written and oral argument using major U.S. Supreme Court cases to more fully understand the difficult job appellate judges have in making sound precedent for society that resonates beyond the facts of a particular case. We cover the basic areas of First Amendment law, such as prior restraint, libel, obscenity and time-place-manner restrictions. Students will also be exposed briefly to a concise overview of non-Media Law subjects taught for the purpose of demonstrating context. We then study the ethical ramifications of Media Law precedents ascertaining the positive (what the law is) and distinguishing it from the normative (what the law should be). Discussion and assignments will emphasize the practical implications and meaning of these cases and legal concepts for journalists working in the age of social media, changing news delivery systems and overt hostility to the press.

Class Materials (Required)


Class Attributes

Attendance at 1st class mandatory
No Freshmen
SDG Peace & Justice

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Reserved for Medill Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors