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The Law of Journalism and Mass Communication

The Law of Journalism and Mass Communication

Sixth Edition
Additional resources:

Media Law

November 2017 | 704 pages | CQ Press

“This is an excellent and in-depth text for a media law class. The authors provide a comprehensive look at media law and supplement the main text with a wide range of infographics that expand on the concepts and cases covered in the text.”
—Elizabeth Skews, University of Colorado Boulder

The Law of Journalism and Mass Communication, Sixth Edition offers a clear and engaging introduction to media law with comprehensive coverage and analysis of key cases for future journalists and media professionals. Students are introduced to key legal issues at the start of each chapter, building their critical thinking skills before progressing to real-world landmark cases that demonstrate how media law is applied today. Contemporary examples, emerging legal topics, international issues, and cutting-edge research all help students to retain and apply principles of media law in practice.  

The thoroughly revised Sixth Edition has been reorganized and shortened to 12 chapters, streamlining the content and offering instructors more opportunities for classroom activities. This edition also goes beyond the judiciary—including discussions of tweets and public protests, alcohol ads in university newspapers, global data privacy and cybersecurity, libel on the internet, and free speech on college campuses—to show how the law affects the ways mass communication works and how people perceive and receive that work.

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List of Features
About the Authors
Law in a Changing Communication Environment  
Body of the Law  
Structure of the Judicial System  
Processes of the Law  
Finding the Law  
Reading Case Law  
Speech and Press Freedoms in Theory and Reality  
What the First Amendment Means  
Where the First Amendment Came From  
Why We Value the First Amendment  
When “the Press” Changes  
How Government Restrains First Amendment Freedoms  
How the Supreme Court Reviews Laws Affecting First Amendment Rights  
Speaking Politics  
Speaking for and as the Government  
Political Campaigning and Financing Elections  
Speaking Anonymously  
Assembling and Speaking in Public and Nonpublic Places  
Requiring Speech  
Different Categories Trigger Distinct Treatment  
National Security and Tranquility  
Evolving Court Tests to Protect Disruptive Speech  
Do Media Incite Harm?  
Speech Harms  
Symbolic Speech  
Speech in the Schools  
Other Harms  
The Plaintiff’s Case  
A Brief History  
The Elements of Libel: The Plaintiff’s Case  
Emotional Distress  
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress  
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress  
Defenses and Privileges  
Anti-SLAPP Protection  
Fair Report Privilege  
Fair Comment and Criticism  
Section 230 Immunity  
Other Defenses  
Additional Defense Considerations  
Conflicts Between the Press, the Government and the Right to Privacy  
Privacy Law’s Development  
False Light  
Private Facts  
Privacy and Data Protection  
Electronic Privacy and the Supreme Court  
Opportunities and Obstacles  
Access to Places  
Access to Government Meetings and Records  
Promises of Confidentiality  
Obstacles to Gathering Information  
Obstacles to Gathering Government Information  
Protecting Procedures and Watchdogs  
Access to Courts and Court Records  
Advancing Fairness in Trials  
Balancing Interests  
Advancing the Flow of News  
From Radio to the Internet  
Development of Broadcast Regulation  
Broadcast Program Regulation  
Development of Cable and Satellite Regulation  
Multichannel Video Programming Distributors Regulation  
Internet Regulation  
Social Norms and Legal Standards  
Protecting and Using Intangible Creations  
When Speech and Commerce Converge  
What Is Commercial Speech?  
Evolving Commercial Speech Protection  
Creating Distinctions Within Commercial Speech  
Remedying Problems Through Executive Agencies  
Case Index
Subject Index


Student Study Site

The open-access Student Study Site includes the following:

    •  An archive of case studies provide students with the opportunity to engage directly and personally with the legal decisions that construct The Law of Journalism and Mass Communication.
    • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards reinforce understanding of key terms and concepts that have been outlined in the chapters.
    • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment of progress made in learning course material.
    • Insightful chapter summaries to help students study and reinforce key concepts.
    • Links to professional resources to help students further explore chapter concepts and to facilitate research.
Instructor Resource Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following:

    • A Microsoft® Word test bank, is available containing multiple choice, true/false, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
    • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course.
    • Lively and stimulating chapter activities that can be used in class to reinforce active learning. The activities apply to individual or group projects.
    • An Instructor Manual features chapter overviews, chapter outlines, classroom activities, and links to professional resources.
    • Tables and Figures are available in an easily-downloadable format for use in papers, hand-outs, and presentations

“This is an excellent and in-depth text for a media law class. The authors provide a comprehensive look at media law and supplement the main text with a wide range of infographics that expand on the concepts and cases covered in the text.”

Elizabeth Skews
University of Colorado Boulder

“This book presents all the important communications law topics in a clear and comprehensive manner.  It is up-to-date with cutting-edge and relevant legal topics that communications professionals, particularly journalists, may confront. The examples and features are current and clear.”

Roy S. Gutterman
Syracuse University

“It provides a nearly perfect introduction and legal foundation for undergraduates interested in the practice of journalism and other mass media professions. It’s engaging and up to date. Has no intimidation factors despite the fact it teaches solid legal principles.”

John Watson
American University School of Communication

This updated 6th edition has excellent relevance for people working in today's world. The social media applications are very relevant as are the people and events currently in the news.

Dr Pamela Kalbfleisch
School Of Communication, University Of North Dakota
October 23, 2017
Key features
  • The number of chapters has been reduced and several chapters have been reorganized, streamlining the content and offering instructors more opportunities for classroom activities.
  • Clearer definitions in the margins and the glossary makes student comprehension and engagement easier. 
  • New case discussions and excerpts—such as new coverage of Reed v. Town of Gilbert in light of its growing impact, recent Supreme Court cases involving intellectual property, and the Communications Decency Act’s Sec. 230 protections for online carriers of terrorist speech—provide students with the most current and comprehensive treatment of the law. 
  • New coverage of legislation and regulations throughout—including discussions of the Federal Aviation Administration regulations on commercial drone use, developments in the area of social media use in trials, and the Federal Communication Commission’s regulation of multichannel video programming distributors and online video providers—show students how current laws have impacted the work of journalists and media professionals. 
  • The chapter on speech distinctions now includes a discussion on the treatment of violence and focuses on how the Supreme Court’s application of the First Amendment has evolved through time. This helps students see that speech categories are not always precise and how court precedents constrain but do not absolutely bind subsequent decisions. 
  • A sharpened chapter on libel and emotional distress is followed by a reorganized chapter on libel defenses to highlight those defenses most commonly used today. 
  • The privacy chapter offers students new information on privacy and data protection before ending with how the Supreme Court has approached emerging issues of electronic privacy.
  • Two chapters replace the three chapters that formerly dealt separately with newsgathering, reporter’s privilege, and access to the courts. An information gathering chapter reaches beyond purely news situations to highlight issues important to public relations and marketing professionals. Reporter’s privilege is now included in the chapter on courts. 
  • A reorganized chapter on electronic media regulation makes the material more approachable for students and better explains how both regulatory history and technological changes go hand in hand with regulation
  • The chapter on advertising opens with a clarified discussion of the shifting definition of commercial speech and the evolving Supreme Court protection of advertising.


  • Colorful and engaging features and photos entice readers who may be intimidated by studying media law.
  • Social Media Law boxes spotlight the sweeping impact of new media technologies on people’s lives and the practices and laws of journalism and mass communication.
  • Hypothetical Suppose cases at the start of each chapter get students thinking about key legal issues.
  • Real World Law boxes offer contemporary examples of media law in practice.
  • Timelines show the progression of landmark cases in context of important historical events.
  • Points of Law boxes in every chapter underscore key issues and legal tests.
  • Two excerpted Cases for Study with explanatory headnotes and questions at the end of each chapter present carefully edited U.S. Supreme Court decisions to help readers focus on important elements.
  • Emerging Law focus on new legal issues just beginning to surface, such as issues related to digital technology and social media.
  • International Law explore global issues for media law that help students navigate and increasingly connected media landscape.
  • Marginal key terms help students with the new vocabulary of the law of journalism and mass communication.

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

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