Media Law: A Guide to Understanding Mass Communication Law

Author(s): Mark P. Hanebutt

Edition: 4

Copyright: 2022

Pages: 470


Details: Print Product |

The health of the American democracy in the 21st Century will depend largely upon the health of American media. Information is the lifeblood of a free republic. Yet, the internet and social media have provided media professionals with new legal challenges regarding privacy, security and credibility. If the free flow of ideas and news is to continue, those who work in the media must understand the principles and laws that protect our right to know.

In Media Law: A Guide to Understanding Mass Communication Law, Mark Hanebutt provides a concise summary of those precepts to help media professionals in their day-to-day task of presenting information. The publication cuts through non-essential discussion and presents the basics. As such, it presents a readable desk reference for students, journalists, advertisers, and public relations specialists.

Mark Hanebutt, a former reporter and editor for The Orlando Sentinel, is professor of journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma and a lawyer in Oklahoma City.



Chapter 1 The Purpose, Origin, and Types of Law

The Need for Order Law, Ethics, and Morality

Systems of Law

Common Law

Equity Law

Statutory Law

Constitutional Law

Administrative Law

Executive Orders

Areas of Law

Chapter 2 American Democracy and the Law

Early Events That Shaped American Law

The Enlightenment—Foundation of American Government

Moving Toward a Government of, by, and for the People

Principles of Democracy

Drafting the U.S. Constitution

The Fight for Ratification

What’s in the Constitution: Types and Limitations of Power

The Congress

How a Bill Becomes a Law

The Presidency

Chapter 3 The American Legal System

Seeking Truth and Interpreting the Law

A Dual Court System

The Federal Courts

The Anatomy of a Lawsuit

Civil Suits


Criminal Trials

Finding the Law

 Briefing a Case

Bench-Bar-Press Guidelines

Chapter 4 The First Amendment: A Look at Speech and Press

Protecting the Pursuit of Truth

A History of Censorship 

Advocates of Free Expression

Early Suppression in America

The First Amendment: Discovering the Framers’ Intent

Ways to Interpret the First Amendment Today

Absolutist Theory

Ad Hoc Balancing Theory

Preferred Position Balancing Theory

Marketplace of Ideas Theory

Access Theory

Self-Realization Theory

Meiklejohnian Theory

The Future of the First Amendment

Chapter 5 The Boundaries of Free Expression

The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798

The Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917 and 1918

The Clear and Present Danger Test

The Doctrine of Incorporation

More Speech, Not Less

Contents vii The Smith Act of 1940

The Brandenburg Imminent and Likely Test

The Strict Scrutiny, Intermediate Scrutiny, and Rational Basis Tests

Forum Analysis

Unprotected Speech

Prior Restraint

Near v. Minnesota

Pentagon Papers

Hate Speech

Symbolic Speech

Compelled Speech

Censoring Government Employees

False Speech

Taxation as Censorship

Retaliatory Arrest

Son of Sam Laws

Grand Jury Testimony



Disturbing Images

Distributing Literature

Foreign Organizations

Gender Issues


Protests, Solicitations and Picketing


Chapter 6 Libel

The Value of Reputation

Elements of Defamation







The New York Times Co. v. Sullivan and Public Officials

MEDIA LAW The Impact of The New York Times Co. v. Sullivan Case

Public Figures

Limited-Purpose Public Figures

Businesses as Public Figures

Product Disparagement

Public Persons and the Passage of Time

Defenses to Libel


Summary Judgment

Statute of Limitations


Fair Comment and Criticism



Section 230

Neutral Reportage

Wire Service Defense

Single Publication Rul

Libel-Proof Plaintiffs

Section 315 of the Federal Communications Commission Act


Right of Reply



Infliction of Emotional Distress

Chapter 7 Invasion of Privacy

The Need to Be Let Alone

Sources of Privacy Law

Contrasting Libel and Invasion of Privacy

The Growing Privacy Problem


Disclosure of Private Facts


False Light

Privacy and the Internet

Chapter 8 Open Records and Meetings

The Need for Information

The Freedom of Information Act

Internet Access to Information

Using the Freedom of Information Act

Freedom of Information Act Exemptions

Freedom of Information Act Limitations

Interviewing Government Officials

Executive Privilege

The 1974 Privacy Act

The Buckley Amendment and Clery Act

The Federal Advisory Committee Act

Criminal History Information

The Federal Driver’s Privacy Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Government in the Sunshine Act .

State Open Records and Meetings Laws

Additional Problems of Information Access

Suggestions for Getting Information

Sample Freedom of Information Request Letter

Chapter 9 Protection of Sources

The Need to Protect Sources

Failing to Keep a Promise—When Sources Sue

Branzburg v. Hayes .

Other Sources of Protection

Contempt and the Collateral Bar Rule

Criminal Cases v. Civil Cases and Nonconfidential Information

Telephone Records

Anonymous Online Posts

State Shield Laws

Who Is a Reporter?

Efforts to Pass a Federal Shield Law

Zurcher v. Stanford Daily

MEDIA LAW The Privacy Protection Act

Consider Alternatives

Chapter 10 Free Press/Fair Trial

When Constitutional Rights Collide

Sheppard v. Maxwell

Seating an Impartial Jury

Voir Dire

Change of Venue

Change of Veniremen


Jury Admonition


Restrictive Orders

The Nebraska Press Association Test

Closed Courtrooms

The Press-Enterprise Test\

Challenging Closure

Accessing Court Records

Electronic Records

Recording, Photographing and Televising Court Proceedings

New Technologies in the Courtroom

Bench-Bar-Press Guidelines

Eliminating Prejudicial Reporting

Chapter 11 Obscenity

Defining Sexual Expression

The Problem with Obscenity

Early Regulation of Sexual Expression

The Miller Test

Variable Obscenity

Child Pornography


Other Ways to Regulate Obscenity

Postal Regulations

Film Censorship and Ratings Systems

Internet Filters

Withholding Government Grants

Nuisance Laws

Zoning Ordinances

Broadcast Indecency

Cable Indecency


Chapter 12 Intellectual Property

Protecting Creations of the Mind

The Copyright Act of 1790

Copyright Today

Copyright and the Internet

Copyright and Music

Duration of Copyright


Copyright Infringement

Unfair Competition

The Fair Use Defense

Other Defenses to Infringement


Duration of Trademark Protection

Marks of Distinction


Chapter 13 Advertising and Commercial Speech

The Evolution of Commercial Speech Protection

Government Regulation of Advertising

Printer’s Ink Statutes

The Federal Trade Commission Act

The Commercial Speech Doctrine

Compelled Commercial Speech

Corporations and Noncommercial Speech

Media Access

The Far Reach of the Federal Trade Commission

FTC Methods to Stop False Advertising




MEDIA LAW • Voluntary Compliance

Consent Agreements

Litigated Orders

Corrective Advertising


Other Advertising Concerns





Internet and Social Media Advertising

Comparison Ads

Bait-and-switch Advertising

Advertiser Liability and Defenses Against False-Advertising Claims

Other Federal Agencies That Regulate Advertising

The Food and Drug Administration

The Federal Communications Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commission

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)

The Federal Election Commission

The Federal Reserve Board

The Lanham Act


Chapter 14 Broadcasting and the Internet

The Development of Radio

First Amendment Concerns

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)


The Effects of Deregulation

Broadcast Station Ownership

The Fairness Doctrine

Personal Attack Rules and Political Editorial Rules

Broadcast Ascertainment Rules

The Equal Time Rule

The Candidate Access Rule

Candidate Advertising


Children’s Programming


Violence on Television

The News, Hoaxes, and Video News Releases

Other Content Rules

Noncommercial Broadcasting

Cable Television

Direct Broadcast Satellites

Low Power Television

Satellite Radio

Low Power FM Radio

The Internet

Appendix A: The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

Appendix B: The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription


About the Author


Mark P. Hanebutt

Mark Hanebutt is professor of journalism in the department of mass communication at the University of Central Oklahoma where he teaches courses in news reporting and media law. In addition, he is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association and is of counsel to Magill & Magill, P.L.L.C., Attorneys and Counselors at Law, in Oklahoma City, where he mediates and consults on media law issues and cases. A former reporter, editor, and syndicated writer with The Orlando Sentinel, he is also the author of The Journalist’s Primer: A No-Nonsense Guide to Getting and Reporting the News (Kendall Hunt 2019). He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, a Master of Arts degree in English and a Juris Doctor degree in law and has received fellowships from the American Press Institute and the Gannett Foundation.

Related ISBN's: 9781792485473, 9781792496899




ISBN 9781792485473

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