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The Law of Journalism and Mass Communication

The Law of Journalism and Mass Communication

Sixth Edition
Additional resources:

October 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