Purpose and Scope
NOTE: The full class website for registered students can be found on Catalyst's CommonView here.
COM 440/POL S 461 explores the media's legal rights and responsibilities in gathering, preparing, and disseminating news and public information. It also explains the constitutional protections afforded the press in the United States and the historical developments behind them. The role of a free press in a pluralistic society, protecting minority viewpoints, will also be highlighted throughout the quarter.
This summer's course will pay particular attention to the role of media law in politics and elections as well as some issues surrounding the copyright of music (there have been a number of copyright-infringement lawsuits filed in the last couple of years against some of today's biggest recording stars). Also this summer, it will be possible to earn W (writing) credit in the class if you choose this option.
On one level, the course deals with legal problems encountered by media professionals and the importance of accuracy and fairness in constructing stories. Although the course emphasizes legal matters, some of our discussion provides guidance for communication professionals as they grapple with ethical decisions. On another level, we'll discuss why the law is the way it is—in other words, the principles, reasoning, political decisions, and historical context that underpin court decisions and statutes.
There's one textbook for the course, Pember & Calvert's Mass Media Law (19th edition). There will be a midterm and final exam as well as one or two small out-of-class assignments, which can be used to earn W credit.