Center to Hire Media Law and Policy Fellow

UNCI’m excited to announce that the Center will be hiring a Media Law and Policy Fellow!  The fellow will play a critical role in supporting a major research initiative at the Center focused on examining various legal and policy issues related to improving government transparency, including the impact government transparency can have on privacy, cybersecurity, equality, and other important interests.

This is a two-year position with a possible renewal for a third year. The salary is $47,476 annually and is accompanied by the standard UNC benefits package and health care insurance for postdoctoral research scholars.

Applicants must hold a J.D. or a Ph.D. We will give preference to applicants with demonstrated interest in the Center’s areas of focus, including journalism, First Amendment, government transparency, and privacy. Applicants should also have experience working with students, organizing events, and managing complex projects. 

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A J.D. and Ph.D.;
  • Knowledge of and interest in the Center’s work;
  • Excellent research, writing, editing, and analytical skills, including empirical legal research experience;
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills;
  • Experience with program planning, administration, and fundraising; and
  • Experience with website, blog, and social media design and content creation.

Applications will be reviewed beginning immediately and will continue until the position is filled. The successful candidate should be prepared to start no later than July 1, 2017, with a potential commencement date as early as January 1, 2017.  

For more information on the position as well as instructions on how to apply, please visit the official position posting on the University of North Carolina’s human resources site, available at: https://unc.peopleadmin.com/postings/108165. You can download a PDF version of the job posting here.

Questions about the position should be directed to medialaw[at]unc.edu.

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Congratulations, #uncfree Instagram Contest Winner Christine Bang

“We all have the right to [RAP]PS.” RAPPS stands for religion, assembly, petition, press and speech. — Christine Bang, UNC ’17

“We all have the right to [RAP]PS.” RAPPS stands for
religion, assembly, petition, press and speech.
— Christine Bang, UNC ’17

UNC student Christine Bang is the winner of the 2016 #uncfree Instagram Contest. The contest was part of Carolina’s eighth-annual First Amendment Day celebration, which is designed to both celebrate the First Amendment and explore its role in the lives of Carolina students. Anyone who filled out an “I believe in the First Amendment because…” mini poster, took a picture with/of the poster, and posted it to Instagram with the hashtag #uncfree on First Amendment Day was eligible to win. 

Christine posted, “I believe in the First Amendment because… we all have the right to (RAP)ps.” RAPPS stands for religion, assembly, petition, press and speech. Her winning photo and caption earned her a First Amendment Day t-shirt, a $20 Starbucks gift card, and a chance for her quote to be featured on next year’s First Amendment Day t-shirt.  

Christine is a senior from Fayetteville, N.C., majoring in advertising. She was previously Dr. Ekstrand’s student in MEJO 340, “Introduction to Media Law.”  When asked about why she chose advertising and what she hopes to do after graduation, Christine said, “I am passionate about visual storytelling, and I was happy to find a major that combined my interests in art and writing into one. I was drawn to advertising because it embodied qualities that I value: collaboration, community, and creativity. After graduation, I’d love to work at an agency for a couple years and learn from work experience and move out to the west coast one day.”

First Amendment Day is organized by the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy. The center is a collaboration between the School of Media and Journalism and the School of Law. Generous funding for the day’s events is provided by Charter Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable).

Congratulations, Christine! 

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A Student’s Reflections on Interning at the FCC

FCC1From Varsha Mangal, a 3L at UNC School of Law and recipient of one of the Center’s Summer Public Interest Grants:

This past summer, I interned at the Office of General Counsel at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. The FCC regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. With the elections near, it was a very exciting time to be at the FCC. Over the course of the summer, the agency had won the net-neutrality case in U.S. Court of Appeals, and was working on many controversial issues such as the proposed rulemakings on privacy and the set-top-boxes.

At the Office of General, I got a birds-eye view of the agency and exposure to the work being done in the different bureaus. I spent most of my time researching and drafting memoranda on intellectual property and contract issues relevant to rulemaking proceedings. I gained a good understanding of administrative law as I updated the attorney handbook with recent developments in the law and wrote briefs on judicial opinions regarding administrative law cases that were released over the summer.  Additionally, I read comments submitted to the FCC and attended ex-parte meetings. Most of my work focused on the major issues arising from the Media Bureau, but I also got to exposure to merger and antitrust issues.

Although there are only a few interns at the OGC, every office and bureau in the agency takes legal interns. Thus, the intern program is quite extensive and the FCC hosted several brown-bag lunches for the students, where speakers such as Chairman Tom Wheeler and the Founder of BET would come speak to us. Also, D.C. is a wonderful place to spend the summer and has several fun things to do for free – which is great for students on a budget!

I would strongly recommend students to apply to the FCC for an internship if they are interested in media law or working for the federal government down the road. Even for those who may want to work in the private sector, the FCC is one of the major government regulators in the media industry and the insight that you receive at the agency will be incredibly valuable. Furthermore, the people I worked with at the agency were brilliant, kind, and great mentors.

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Media Law Student Spent Summer Working in Business and Legal Affairs Office of Broadway Video

bvid-logo-lrgFrom Rachel Rice, a 2L at UNC School of Law and recipient of one of the Center’s Summer Public Interest Grants:

This summer I worked in the Business and Legal Affairs Office of Broadway Video Entertainment. The Business and Legal Affairs Office is located in Los Angeles, California. Broadway Video, a Lorne Michaels company, is known for producing Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, 30 Rock, Documentary Now!, Maya & Marty, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Man Seeking Woman. The company has recently expanded and created its own YouTube platform focused on Latino comedy, titled Mas Mejor, as well as a short-form comedy distributor known as Above Average.

My work this summer focused on aiding the company’s two attorneys with whatever they needed. As a large production company with a small legal team, the Business and Legal Affairs Office provided me with the opportunity to gain experience in almost every aspect of entertainment law. The legal team handles all of the talent, television licensing, music licensing, and locations agreements, as well as any copyright, and trademark issues, among other things.

My biggest project of the summer was summarizing the agreements between IFC (the Independent Film Channel) and Broadway Video for the distribution of Portlandia and Documentary Now! Each agreement had multiple amendments, and in order to consolidate all of the information for quick access to important clauses, I created a chart outlining each agreement as a whole.

I compared countless contracts (really, countless), drafting and editing the standard terms and conditions sections to meet company standards. I formatted talent agreements and examined them for any changes made by the talent agency that might have gone unnoticed. I drafted licensing agreements for the international distribution of Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, and Documentary Now! I also drafted agreements between Broadway Video and airline companies in order to allow the airlines to keep their fliers entertained with recent episodes of Saturday Night Live and Portlandia.

When I wasn’t drafting and editing contracts I was researching labor and employment issues to ensure that SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild), DGA (Directors Guild of America), and WGA (Writers Guild of America) standards were being adhered to regarding the hiring of directors, writers, and actors. I read through scripts to make sure they met internal standards as well as avoided any copyright and trademark issues.

I summarized the pros and cons of various arbitration forums in order to help the office determine which forum would be best, should the need for arbitration arise. In addition, I summarized agreements between Broadway Video and Pepsi, and Broadway Video and Volkswagen for the use of their products in various episodes of television shows.

Working in the Business and Legal Affairs Office was a fantastic opportunity that gave me invaluable experience in transactional, media, and entertainment law. Even outside of work, living in Los Angeles was a phenomenal experience. There is never a dull moment in the city and it’s true what everyone says about the weather – it’s perfect. I would highly recommend this opportunity to any student interested in pursuing a career in any form of media law.

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Meeting Nina Totenberg

Senior NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg did not begin her 50-year career in broadcast journalism thinking she would cover the Supreme Court. But in the early 1970s, Totenberg, then with the National Observer, was assigned to cover the highest court in the land and she has been the go-to source for goings-on at SCOTUS ever since.totenberg

I had the honor of meeting Ms. Totenberg Tuesday, September 20, 2016, when she visited UNC for the annual Frey Foundation Distinguished Lecture. She regaled the capacity crowd in Memorial Hall with tales from her decades of dogged reporting. She recalled meeting a young Ruth Bader Ginsberg — whom she called “the female Thurgood Marshall” — and following her rise to seniority and influence on the Court.

Guided by UNC School of Law professor Michael Gerhardt’s incisive questions, Totenberg described in vibrant and poignant terms how politics influence the Court’s composition. She critiqued both Democrat and Republican attempts to tip the balance of the Court along political, ideological lines, citing the failed confirmation of Robert Bork and the controversy surrounding President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

Following the lecture, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, and administrators, faculty and students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Media and Journalism, and the School of Law joined Totenberg for dinner and conversation. Dinner offered us an intimate look into the public and personal lives of the justices through Totenberg’s eyes.  At dinner, Totenberg’s stories took on additional life. She described in heartfelt anecdotes the occasionally fiery but always collegial relationship between Justice Ginsberg and the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom she affectionately called “Nino.” The guests appeared to hang on Totenberg’s every word, relishing the opportunity to learn from the most seasoned legal correspondent to ever cover the Court.

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