As the incoming treasurer for the Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Mass Communications, I’m excited to announce that we’ll be hosting a joint program with the Internet and Computer Law section at our annual meeting in New Orleans. Here is the announcement with a call for papers:
The AALS Section on Internet and Computer Law and the Section on Mass Communications are hosting a joint program entitled “The Evolving Role of the Internet in Politics and Political Campaigns” at the AALS Annual Meeting to be held in New Orleans, LA from January 4-7, 2013. Both sections invite submissions of papers on the program’s topic; one paper will be selected for presentation at the conference.
As the Supreme Court recognized in ACLU v. Reno, “the Internet is ‘a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication.'” Among its unique features is that the Internet democratizes the opportunity to engage in political speech by offering ready access to any speaker with an Internet connection to large potential audiences at the local, state, national or global levels. This program assesses the impact the Internet has had to date on the relationship between the media and public officials or political candidates. Traditional newspapers are struggling to find a sustainable business model and appear to be losing some influence over the policy agenda or public officials’ conduct. Internet-only publications and other forms of political speech on the Internet have a complicated relationship with traditional media organizations, which, of course, also rely on the Internet to interact with their audiences. To what extent are these changes fostering or inhibiting democracy? Is law reform necessary in response to these changes?
I should also add that UNC’s very own Daniel Kreiss will be on the panel, talking about his new book from Oxford University Press: “Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama.”