Author Archive | David Ardia

Media Law Dual Degree Programs at UNC-Chapel Hill

Hey students, have you thought about what you want to do after you graduate with your undergraduate or master’s degree? Thinking about law school and a career in media law and policy? A strong background in law and mass communication can be a launching pad for a career in law, media, business, entertainment, government, public policy or academia. For a sampling of the jobs available in these growing fields, check out our Media Law Jobs Board.

The nationally renowned UNC School of Media and Journalism and UNC School of Law have brought together these two dynamic fields to offer two exciting dual degree programs in media law and policy that allow students to earn simultaneous M.A./J.D. or Ph.D./J.D. degrees in less time than it would take to earn the individual degrees separately (an earned master’s degree is required to apply for the dual Ph.D./J.D. degree program). Students who apply to the dual degree program can use their LSAT score in lieu of the GRE for admission to the M.A. or Ph.D. program. Dual degree students often work with the Center for Media Law and Policy and receive extensive mentoring from the Center’s affiliated faculty.

We will be holding two information sessions for the Dual Degree Program over the next two weeks.  The first, which is geared primarily for current law students, will take place on October 22 at 5:00 PM in Room 5048 at the UNC School of Law.  The second session will be on October 29 at 5:00 PM in the Freedom Forum Conference Center in Carroll Hall at the UNC School of Media and Journalism. For more information on the October 29 session, please see our separate event listing.

Anyone interested in joining the active and vibrant media law community here at UNC is invited to attend either session. Members of the program’s faculty and current dual degree students will be there to answer questions. Pizza will be served!


First Amendment Day 2018

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will celebrate its tenth-annual First Amendment Day on Tuesday, Sept. 25. This campus-wide, daylong event is designed to both celebrate the First Amendment and explore its role in the lives of Carolina students. Students and other members of the university community will read from banned books and discuss the public university’s special role as a marketplace of ideas and the need to be tolerant when others exercise their rights.

The 2018 First Amendment Day Keynote speaker will be Siva Vaidhyanathan, the Robertson Professor of Media Studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. Vaidhyanathan will talk about his new book Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2018). After five years as a professional journalist, he earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Vaidhyanathan has also taught at Wesleyan University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Columbia University, New York University, McMaster University, and the University of Amsterdam. He is a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities and a Faculty Associate of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Vaidhyanathan will speak at 7:00 P.M. in 111 Carroll Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

There will also be other events all over campus, ranging from a panel discussion on Public Art, Public Memorials, and the First Amendment to readings from Banned Books conducted by faculty and students at the School of Information and Library Science.

You can check out all of the day’s events here:


Privacy by Design: A Student Guide for Collecting and Protecting User Data

As we start the new semester at UNC – Chapel Hill, I want to reflect briefly on a class I taught last spring and highlight the great work of some of the students in that class.

For the past six years, I’ve taught a class called Media & Internet Law Practicum.  This is a class I designed shortly after joining the faculty at the UNC School of Law.  My goal was to give students the chance to see what it is like to work in the legal department at a diversified media company. I play the role of  “general counsel” and the students, who are assigned to 3-4 person teams, serve as “associate counsel.” In addition to their classroom work, the teams are embedded in one of several ongoing news-producing projects at the UNC School of Media and Journalism, including Carolina Week (television program), Carolina Connection (radio program), Media Hub (multimedia), and Reese News Lab (startup incubator), where the law students work with undergraduate and graduate student journalists.  Through a combination of in-class simulations and real-world problems arising from their projects, the students gain substantial insight into how in-house lawyers provide legal counseling to media and Internet clients.

At the end of the semester I ask each student team to create a tangible resource/guide that addresses an ongoing legal need for their project.  Over the years, the students have created some fantastic things, including copyright and fair use guides, a primer on FERPA, a pocket summary of a reporter’s legal rights when engaged in newsgathering, fair use training aids, and most recently, a guide titled “Privacy and Security by Design: Best Practices for Collecting and Protecting User Data.” This very useful brochure was created by Amber Lee, David Mansor, and Lauren Russell to help the students in the Reese News Lab avoid legal problems when developing new apps and services. They graciously agreed to allow me to share their work with all of you.

Here is a snippet from the introduction:

No matter what your product is, whether it be an app to inform users on local elections, or a payment service for 20-something drinkers trying to avoid long lines at the bar, you will likely be collecting information from your users. Collecting information about your users allows you to better personalize services and marketing, and sharing the information in an appropriate way could potentially be a revenue stream for your company. Almost all websites—including the Federal Trade Commission’s, the federal agency that polices private companies’ cybersecurity—collect some information on its visitors. But startups should tread carefully. Successful tech companies ranging from Uber to Google to Facebook have gotten into trouble with the FTC and have lost public trust for mishandling user data. It is important to think about users’ privacy throughout your product design and development process.

You can download the entire guide here.  Great work Amber, David, and Lauren!



Announcing the Center’s New Faculty Co-Director: Tori Ekstrand

I’m pleased to announce that Dr. Victoria “Tori” Smith Ekstrand, associate professor at the School of Media and Journalism, has been appointed to serve as a faculty co-director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy. Tori replaces Dr. Michael Hoefges, the Center’s dual-degree program advisor, who filled in as interim co-director following Cathy Packer’s retirement in December 2017 (Thank you, Michael!).

Tori has been deeply involved with the Center for many years, most recently serving as the Center’s communications director. Tori teaches media law courses at the School of Media and Journalism and is one of the nation’s leading experts on the “hot news” doctrine. Before coming to Carolina, she was an associate professor in the Bowling Green State University Department of Journalism and Public Relations and an affiliate faculty member of BGSU’s American Cultural Studies department. In 2008, she was awarded BGSU’s Outstanding Young Scholar Award.

Tori’s research explores conflicts between copyright law and the First Amendment, particularly as they arise in journalism and social media. Her work is often grounded in critical legal theory, in which she examines the impact of law and policy on culture and media production. In this vein, she has begun investigating online accessibility for the disabled as a First Amendment issue.  Tori has written two books on the hot news doctrine, a part of unfair competition law that protects the facts of news for a short period. Her revised book on the subject, Hot News in the Age of Big Data: A Legal History of the Hot News Doctrine and Implications for the Digital Age (LFB Scholarly, 2015), looks at the history of the doctrine and its impact on protections for discrete bits of information in the age of Big Data. She has also published articles in Journalism and Mass Communications QuarterlyCardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal and Communication Law & Policy. Before teaching, Tori worked for The Associated Press in their New York headquarters for nearly a decade. She served as AP’s director of Corporate Communications, responsible for marketing, public relations and events for the worldwide news agency.

Tori brings remarkable passion to everything she does. I’m thrilled that she is taking on an expanded role at the Center!


Summer Grants for UNC Law and Graduate Students Interested in Media Law and Policy

summer-job-pictureAre you interested in pursuing a career in media law or policy?  Are you worried that you won’t be able to take that plum summer job in New York, Washington, or Los Angeles because it’s just too expensive to live there.  Well, the Center for Media Law and Policy is here to help.  For the seventh year in a row, the Center will be providing grants to UNC law and graduate students who have a summer job in the field of media law or media policy.

The Center’s summer grants program provides funds to UNC law and graduate students taking unpaid or low-paying jobs in the fields of media law or media policy. In past years, UNC students have received a summer grant to support their work at a wide range of organizations, including the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade CommissionNational Public Radio, Electronic Frontier FoundationFoundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Future of Privacy Forum, Student Press Law Center, Broadway Video GroupAmerican Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, and Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

Wait, you don’t have a summer job yet?!  Head over to our media law and policy Jobs Center, where you will find dozens of summer (and post-graduate) employment opportunities. You can easily find the perfect job for you by using our advanced search feature to search by location, keyword, or practice area.  Also, try browsing by job type or category for a more expansive look at the jobs listed. Still not sure what you want to do for the summer?  You can read about the summer experiences of your fellow students on the Center’s blog.

Requirements and Information on How to Apply for a Summer Grant

You must be a UNC law student or graduate student to apply. You will need to download the application form and send it directly to us at medialaw [at] along with the other supporting material described below. Please put “Summer Grant Application” in the subject. The deadline for applying for a summer grant is April 2, 2018.

Law students who applied through the law school’s Summer Public Interest Grant Program are also eligible for a Center grant. You do not need to apply to the Center separately. Simply check the box on the general application for “Media Law or Policy” under the heading “Substantive Areas Your Summer Employment Will Involve” and you will be automatically considered for Center funds in addition to the law school grant.

Applications will be evaluated based on (a) your demonstrated commitment to working in the areas of media law or policy and (b) the quality of your essays (each essay should not be more than 500 words).

Required documents include:

  1. Resume (without grade information)
  2. Offer letter from your employer
  3. Essays (no more than 500 words each) *

* Essay questions:

  • Essay #1: Describe your work responsibilities and how they relate to media law or media policy.
  • Essay #2: Describe your commitment to public service. How have your past interests and work experiences contributed to your proposed summer internship responsibilities?
  • Essay #3: How do you see this summer work experience contributing to your long-term career goals?

Be sure to check out these Tips for Writing a Strong Grant Application. You will be notified of a decision in April.