University of Miami School of Law CourseLink Course Description - Online System
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Spring 2022

Course Description
The First Amendment prohibits laws abridging freedom of speech or of the press. But what exactly is the freedom of the press? What laws will be deemed to abridge it? How can and should we adapt First Amendment theory to deal with new technologies and the globalizing news environment?
Journalism today faces dramatic changes and challenges in the new media environment. We are now light years away from the news environment in which everyone in the country watched the daily news on the three broadcast networks. Journalists, news organizations of every stripe, and journalism itself are now under attack from both right and left. Former President Trump publicly called the press “the enemy of the American people” and fanned the flames of public distrust. Despite a change of Executive, charges and countercharges of “fake news” still continue to outnumber actual news events of the day. Predictably in this environment, studies show a remarkable lack of faith in the press by the American public. Even though more Republicans than Democrats say they are deeply skeptical of news accounts, the reported level of trust is low across the board. Public distrust is joined by existential economic pressures. Indeed, there are now many American cities and towns called “news deserts”—where no news organizations provide local news. Despite public attitudes, the surveillance state and the increasing power of massive corporate entities make investigative public interest journalism—what has been called “watchdog journalism”-- increasingly important. Recent studies conclude that both corporate misdeeds and governmental corruption thrive when there is no investigative news coverage. At the same time, political, technological and legal developments create obstacles for media. The Internet has undermined the traditional business model of the daily newspaper without having yet replaced it with a viable alternative. It has also led to fundamental changes in the practices of journalism itself. Now that everyone with a smartphone camera can call him/herself a journalist, what, if anything, distinguishes the institutional press? Technology poses the risk that journalists will not be able to keep their sources’ identities secret. As for the law, doctrine advantages publication, but erects barriers to newsgathering. The political climate promotes leaking, but journalists relying on whistleblower sources are threatened with prosecution. At the same time, more Americans—and particularly young people—seem far more comfortable with the notion of regulating speech and the press than ever before. In other words, this is a fascinating moment in which to study media law.

What do we cover? This course focuses on the bodies of law regulating the gathering and dissemination of information by the media, including constitutional, statutory, and common law. Specifically, we will cover defamation and privacy, liability for physical and economic harms caused by the media, subpoenas and searches, media access to information, and regulation of broadcasting.

Course Schedule
Dates Day Time Room
01-18-2022 - 04-25-2022   MW  11:00 AM-12:15 PM TBD

Course Frequency
This course is usually offered once every academic year

Course Information

Credits: 3
Pass/Fail Option: Yes
Prerequisite: There are no prerequisites for this course.
Method of Evaluation: Final exam (open book)
Graduation Requirements Fulfilled By Course:
Special Attributes: None
Course Delivery:
Special Restrictions:
Law Track(s):
Entertainment, Music, & Sports - Specialized
Government & Regulation - Specialized
Bar Subject(s): None
Social Justice & Public Interest (Area of Focus)   More information
Social Justice & Public Interest (Concentration)   More information
Course Book(s):
Textbook Required:
  • Textbook Name: Media Law: Cases and Materials
    Textbook Type: Hardcover
    Requirement: Required
    Author: Franklin, Anderson, Lidsky, and Gajda
    Publisher: Foundation Press
    Edition: Ninth Edition
    ISBN: 9781609304676
First Class Assignment(s): TBD/None



Contact Information:
Phone: (305)284-2289
Office: G471