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UNC Center for Media Law and Policy

Announcing the Center for Media Law and Policy’s 2017-18 Affiliated Faculty

We are excited to announce the Center’s 2017-18 faculty affiliates. This year, the Center added six scholars to our returning group of affiliated faculty, and we are thrilled to have them join our community. Our newest faculty affiliates are:

  • Frayda Bluestein, David M. Lawrence Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government, UNC School of Government
  • Deen Freelon, Associate Professor, UNC School of Media and Journalism
  • William Marshall, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, UNC School of Law
  • Alice Marwick, Assistant Professor, UNC Department of Communication
  • Torin Monahan, Professor, UNC Department of Communication
  • Zeynep Tufecki, Associate Professor, UNC School of Information and Library Science

They will be joining our returning faculty affiliates: Penny Abernathy, Victoria Smith Ekstrand, Deborah Gerhardt, Anne Gilliland, Ferrel GuilloryDave Hansen, Michael Hoefges, Paul Jones, Anne Klinefelter, Daniel Kreiss, Cal Lee, Gary Marchionini, Mary-Rose Papandrea, and Ryan Thornburg. You can read about each of these amazing scholars on our Affiliated Faculty page.

Affiliates of the Center are a community of scholars interested in the interdisciplinary exploration of issues related to media law and policy. Faculty affiliates play an active role in the life of the Center by participating in the Center’s activities and identifying opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations.

Image by Martin Grandjean licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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UNC First Amendment Day is Tuesday!

It’s almost time for what we at the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy think is the best day of the year! On Tuesday, Sept. 26, UNC will celebrate its ninth-annual First Amendment Day! This day of events is one of the highlights of the year at the Center, and we are thrilled to share it with our wonderful campus.

We have an exciting schedule for our day-long event this year.  From public readings of banned books to panels on the state of campus speech, this year’s First Amendment Day is sure to foster meaningful discussion about the state of the First Amendment as well as the University’s unique role in the marketplace of ideas.

This year’s Opening Ceremony will kick-off the day at 9:30 a.m with great speakers, including Center Co-Directors Dr. Cathy Packer and Professor David Ardia. In addition, we will hear from School of Media and Journalism Dean Susan King and UNC student body president Elizabeth Adkins. Next will be a student debate on Ethics and the First Amendment at 11:00 a.m. The debate will cover two issues: offensive speech in comedy performances and limitations on religious freedoms in the U.S. military. Following the debate, the Law School will host a panel on the Future of Free Expression, which will include a discussion of the state’s recent Campus Free Speech Act. Panelists include N. C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan and Professor Mary-Rose Papandrea, UNC Law’s Dean of Academic Affairs.

Starting at noon, members of the Coalition of Youth Librarians (COYL) and others from the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), including SILS Dean Gary Marchionini, will participate in a reading of books that have been banned from school and public libraries. The readings will continue until 2:30 p.m.

To kick off the afternoon, retired Marine Corps sergeant and investigative journalist Thomas Brennan will speak at the at the Reese News Lab in Carroll Hall at 1:00 p.m., discussing how his work led to Congressional investigations and reform earlier this year. Next, we will tackle the state of campus speech at UNC directly with the panel titled, “Who Can Speak at Carolina?” The panel will include speakers from across campus, including Gabbie Johnson, a recent UNC Law grad and participant in the Silent Sam sit-in; Carolina Review and Daily Tar Heel contributors; and the Center’s own Research Fellow, Rachael Jones. Then, at 3:30 p.m., UNC student journalists from The Daily Tar Heel, Carolina Week, and other student publications will discuss how their work is affected by negative public opinion about the press, social media, and more. 

Leading up to our keynote address, the Carolina Ukulele Ensemble will celebrate the right to make music in Carroll Hall starting at 6:30 p.m. Finally, our keynote speaker, Professor Bill Adair, will discuss the future of the free press. Professor Adair is the creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact. He is the director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy and the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University.

To wrap up our free-speech-filled day, we are hosting a First Amendment Trivia night at Linda’s Bar and Grill! The questions start at 8:00 p.m. You can compete to test your knowledge of the First Amendment rights or simply sit back and enjoy the fun. Either way, it will be a fun (and competitive) end to a great day.

We hope to see everyone at our many events this year! For more information on the schedule, events, speakers, and history of First Amendment Day, visit our webpage. Don’t forget to share your photos and thoughts from the day with us by using the hashtag #uncfree! If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Center.

See you Tuesday!

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UNC Media Law Doctoral Student Wins Top Paper Award for NCA 2017

We are pleased to announce that UNC  doctoral student Shao Chengyuan has won the top student paper award from the Communication and Law Division of the National Communication Association (NCA) this year. Chengyuan will present her paper at the NCA’s annual conference in Dallas, Texas in November. Congratulations, Shao!

Chengyuan studies media law in the UNC School of Media and Journalism. She joined the program in 2015 after earning a master’s in communication from Beijing Foreign Studies University and a bachelor’s in English from China Agricultural University in Beijing. She has now studies media law issues in China, specifically new media-related legislation and the legal boundaries of online free speech.

Chengyuan’s paper, which was blind-reviewed in the NCA’s paper competition,  is titled “Internet Defamation in China: Criminal Cases Since the 2013 Supreme People’s Court Judicial Interpretation.” Here is the abstract.

“This paper examines the recent development in Chinese defamation law, specifically the establishment of a 2013 judicial interpretation by the Supreme People’s Court that criminalized Internet defamation. This paper uses the language of Chinese law and analyzes eight Internet defamation cases decided after the 2013 judicial interpretation on Internet defamation. The criminal cases analyzed in this paper showed how Chinese public prosecutors have employed the new legal rules in cases deemed as threats to public order and state interests, as well as how Chinese individuals, acting as private prosecutors, have pursued criminal defamation prosecutions against online speakers. This paper takes into consideration the cultural and historical background of Chinese criminal defamation law and argues that, in addressing the lack of free speech protection under the current criminal defamation law, Chinese legislators need to consider raising the standard of fault for public officials and eventually abolishing the “state interest clause” of the criminal defamation statute.”

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Center Co-Director to Join Discussion of Section 230 and Backpage.com

Media Law Center Co-Director Cathy Packer will participate in a panel discussion following a screening of the documentary I Am Jane Doe on campus next week. The film chronicles the legal battles of three young girls who were trafficked through the advertising website Backpage.com

Packer will join panelists from UNC Project Dinah, Project FIGHT, and the Orange County Rape Crisis Center to discuss the many issues surrounding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the federal law that limits websites’ liability for content that others post on their sites. Section 230 has long been hailed as one of “the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet.” However, the law has been subjected to intense scrutiny since the classified advertisement website Backpage.com escaped liability after it was revealed that some of the site’s users used the site for sex trafficking.

The panelists will address the problems and benefits of Section 230, including recent federal legislation aimed at amending its broad reach. Ultimately, the panel will discus the necessary balance between Internet freedom and user protections.

The event will be held on September 14th at the UNC School of Social Work Auditorium on Pittsboro Street. The screening will begin at 7 P.M. Admission is free. Attendees are encouraged to submit questions for the post-film discussion with the panel via Twitter, using @Project_NO_REST, #IAmJaneDoe. The panel will also take questions live in the auditorium.

For more information about the film, visit its website. If you have questions about the event, contact Jennie Vaughn at jsvaughn@email.unc.edu.

We hope to see you there!

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Welcome Our New Research Fellow, Rachael Jones

The UNC Center for Media Law and Policy is proud to announce that it has hired its first research fellow, Rachael Jones.  Rachael, who started this week, will oversee the Center’s research initiatives, with a particular focus on government transparency.

Prior to joining the Center, Rachael served as the Jack Nelson/Dow Jones Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (“RCFP”). At RCFP, Rachael assisted journalists daily, and primarily focused on state and federal public records act matters. She has presented her research on free speech issues at the Yale Information and Society Project’s Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference for the past two years and served as a panelist for freedom of information topics for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Law and Policy Division. Rachael earned her J.D. with honors from the University of Florida in 2016, where she was a research editor for the Florida Journal of International Law. While at UF Law, Rachael served as a research assistant to Dean Lyrissa Lidsky and as an extern-clerk to the Honorable Stephanie Ray of the First District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida. In addition, Rachael has studied comparative constitutional law and dispute resolution at the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. Rachael received her Bachelor in Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida in 2011 and hails from the Destin, Florida, area.

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