syllabus spring 2011

syllabus spring 2011 - LawofMassCommunications...

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Law of Mass Communications MMC 4200-Spring 2011 Prof. Sandra Chance E-mail:   schance@jou.ufl.edu TA: Christina Locke             Thursday (3-5 p.m.) E-mail:  clocke@ufl.edu The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information 3208 Weimer Hall (352)392-2273 This course focuses on the First Amendment and the federal and state laws that most directly affect mass communication in the United States. The course will serve as a “survival kit” for students by helping you understand and deal with the many legal questions and issues faced by media professionals in disseminating news and information to the public. You will acquire practical knowledge and learn legal principles and methods of analysis necessary for professional communicators. This course is specifically designed to cover the essential legal issues for all of the majors within this college. Through a combination of lectures, class discussions and other resource materials, you will study the laws governing the media, analyze legal cases and problems and gain practical skills. We’ll begin with an overview of the legal system, including the sources of law, the structure of the state and federal court system and the importance of legal precedence. Whenever possible and appropriate, we’ll look at the different ways freedom of expression is protected or restricted around the world. We’ll examine the First Amendment, what it means and why it’s important not only to members of the media, but to all citizens. Following this overview, we’ll focus on freedom of expression and the issue of censorship. We’ll also study defamation, sometimes known as libel, and privacy, the right to be let alone. We’ll also discuss First Amendment protections for political and commercial speech and the laws of copyright. We’ll be looking at the new rules and regulations governing the Internet and the issues of indecency and obscenity. In the final few weeks of the semester, we’ll learn about restrictions on court reporting and journalists’ confidentiality, and the potential conflict between a free press and a fair trial. Finally, we’ll cover access to government documents and meetings.
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Course Objectives: At the end of the semester, you will have gained: (1) a basic understanding of the American legal system, its institutions, and some of its terminology; (2) a broad understanding of the First Amendment principles as they relate to mass communication; (3) a working knowledge of the laws that directly enhance or restrict information gathering and message dissemination in the mass media, and an understanding of the reasons and rationales behind these laws; and (4) an appreciation for the importance of understanding these legal issues to professional communicators who wish to minimize their legal exposure. Required Texts:
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syllabus spring 2011 - LawofMassCommunications...

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