2020 Cleary Writing Competition Winners Announced

The UNC Center for Media Law and Policy is thrilled to announce the winners of the third annual James R. Cleary Prize for the best student published scholarly articles on media law and policy.

This year’s first place winner is Scott Memmel, a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, for his article, “Crossing Constitutional Boundaries: Searches and Seizures of Electronic Devices at U.S. Borders,” which was published in Communications Law and Policy.  Memmel’s article examines searches and seizures of electronic devices at U.S. borders and “seeks to chart the legal landscape by (1) providing key background information, (2) discussing the First Amendment angle of warrantless searches of journalists’ devices, and (3) detailing the split among federal circuit and district courts regarding the Fourth Amendment question of whether border agents need reasonable suspicion to conduct forensic searches of electronic devices.”

The second place winner is Jeeyun (Sophia) Baik, a 2021 graduate of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her article, “Data privacy and political distrust: corporate ‘pro liars,’ ‘gridlocked Congress,’ and the Twitter issue public around the US privacy legislation,” was published in Information, Communication & Society. Baik’s article “explores how emerging US data privacy regulations are discussed at state and federal levels, examining Twitter discourse around Senate public hearings on data privacy and public forums on the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).”

Memmel will receive a $1,000 cash award and Baik will receive $500.

Scott Memmel

Scott Memmel, M.A., Ph.D. is a postdoctoral associate at the University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication (HSJMC), where he earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2020 and his Master of Arts degree in 2017.

Memmel’s research, which focuses on media law, history, and ethics, has appeared in several respected publications, including Communication Law & Policy. His dissertation and upcoming book to be published by the University of Missouri Press focus on the history and law of the press-police relationship in the United States. Memmel’s dissertation, “Pressing the Police and Policing the Press: The History and Law of the Relationship Between the News Media and Law Enforcement in the United States,” was awarded the 2021 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Nafziger-White-Salwen Dissertation Award and the 2020 University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication Ralph D. Casey Dissertation Research Award. Memmel has worked for several years at the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law, where he previously served as editor of the Silha Bulletin, a thrice-yearly publication focusing on current events related to media law and ethics.

Memmel also teaches several courses at the University of Minnesota, including mass communication law and media ethics. Previously, he held several roles at WSUM 91.7 FM while completing his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin.

Jeeyun (Sophia) Baik

Jeeyun (Sophia) Baik is an incoming postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at UC Berkeley School of Information. She earned her doctoral degree from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Her research explores socio-political implications of media/technology law and policy for those at the margins of society. She particularly examines various stakeholders’ engagement in the governance of media and information technology, covering the issues of privacy/surveillance, content moderation, and mis/disinformation.

Baik’s dissertation closely investigated the “civil right” of data privacy as a regulatory alternative to address discrimination and structural inequities being reinforced in the digital era. Mapping civil society perspectives onto the data-driven political economy and emerging US privacy laws (e.g., California Consumer Privacy Act), she articulated the limitations of traditional privacy regulations and suggested new ways to collectively envision a more just framework.

Baik’s research has been published in Information, Communication & Society, Telematics & Informatics, International Journal of Communication, and Mass Media & Society. Baik also holds a BA in International Relations from Seoul National University in South Korea, and a master’s in Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California. She produced broadcasting news prior to the doctoral program.

You can read more about the Cleary Prize competition here. Please check the Center’s blog for an announcement of next year’s deadline to apply.

Congratulations to the winners!






2021 Summer Grants for UNC Law and Graduate Students Working 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 Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, or Washington, because it’s just too expensive to live there?  Or perhaps you’ll be working remotely from Chapel Hill (or elsewhere) and the job doesn’t pay very much?

Well, the Center for Media Law and Policy is here to help.  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 GroupScreen Media VenturesAmerican 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] unc.edu 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 23, 2021.

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 by the end of April.


The James R. Cleary Prize for Student Media Law and Policy Research in 2020

The UNC Center for Media Law and Policy is now accepting submissions for the James R. Cleary Prize for student media law and policy research published in 2020. The annual award competition, which highlights the best student-authored scholarly articles on media law and policy related topics, honors the legacy of James R. Cleary, an attorney who practiced for 56 years in Huntsville, Ala.  He was particularly interested in the communications field and media law issues.  Cleary’s daughter, Johanna Cleary, is a 2004 Ph.D. graduate of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

You can read about last year’s winners, Elias Wright, from Fordham University School of Law; Sarah Koslov, from Georgetown Law; and David Fischer, from Columbia Law School, here.

The prize competition is open to all college and university students. Up to three winners will be selected, with a first prize of $1,000, a second prize of $500, and a third prize of $250. The prizes will be awarded to the authors of published papers that most creatively and convincingly propose solutions to significant problems in the field of media law and policy, including First Amendment speech and press issues. All methodologies are welcome.

The deadline for submission is April 15, 2021.


  1. The author of the submitted publication must have been enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree-granting program in the United States at the time the article was accepted for publication. This includes, but is not limited to, students enrolled in M.A. and Ph.D. programs, law school (including J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. candidates), and other professional schools (including M.B.A. candidates).
  2. The submitted paper must have been published in a law review or peer-reviewed journal during the 2020 calendar year.
  3. Each student may submit only one entry.
  4. Jointly authored papers are eligible, provided all authors meet the eligibility requirements for the competition. If a winning paper has more than one author, the prize will be split equally among the co-authors. No work with a faculty co-author will be considered.
  5. Each entry must be the original work of the listed author(s). The author(s) must perform all of the key tasks of identifying the topic, researching it, analyzing it, formulating positions and arguments, and writing and revising the paper.
  6. Papers will be evaluated based on a number of factors, including thoroughness of research and analysis, relevance to the competition topic, relevance to current legal and/ or public policy debates, originality of thought, and clarity of expression.
  7. The prize will be monetary. Winners will be required to submit a completed W-9, affidavit of eligibility, tax acknowledgment and liability release for tax purposes as a condition of receiving the cash prize.
  8. In the unlikely event that entries are of insufficient quality to merit an award, the Center for Media Law and Policy reserves the right not to award some or all of the prizes.

Submission Process

  • All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 15, 2021.
  • Entries must be sent via email to medialaw[at]unc.edu with the following in the subject line: “James R. Cleary Prize Submission: [Name of Author]”
  • Papers should be submitted in Portable Document Format (.pdf).
  • Entries MUST include a signed cover sheet that may be downloaded from the Center for Media Law Policy’s website here.

A review committee comprised of faculty and affiliates from the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy will review the submissions and determine the winning paper(s). The decisions of the committee are final. Winners will be notified and final results will appear on the Center’s website in late spring. Due to the large number of expected entries, the Center cannot contact all non-winning entrants.

For more information, please visit our Cleary Competition page.


Media Law and IP Sessions at the UNC Festival of Legal Learning

One of the biggest annual events at the UNC School of Law is the Festival of Legal Learning. This year’s multi-day convocation of legal geekery comprises 30 different continuing legal education (CLE) sessions over four days. For the past few years, the Center for Media Law and Policy has helped with the selection and coordination of sessions that cover Media Law and Intellectual Property subjects.

This year’s festival, which takes place on February 2-5, will be entirely remote, so you can kick back at home and partake in one of the best CLE programs in the country.  Although the festival is much smaller this year, there are at least 10 sessions that touch on media law and IP topics, ranging from the law of protests to cybercrime. And the list of speakers is a who’s who of the top media and IP lawyers in the state. You can see a list of these folks and descriptions of their sessions on the law school’s event page.

Here are just a few of the sessions available at the festival this year:

Tuesday, Feb. 2

  • 12:00 PM  –  1:00 PM + Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act: What Does It Do, Who Wants to Change It, and How Does It Affect You? 
  • 3:45 PM  –  4:45 PM + Plenary: The Law of Protests and the Right to Assembly

Wednesday, Feb. 3

  • 2:30 PM  –  3:30 PM + The Complicated Legal Realm of the NCAA and Student-Athlete Name, Image, and Likeness Rights
  • 3:45 PM  –  4:45 PM + Plenary: 2020 Post-Election Analysis

Thursday, Feb. 4

  • 12:00 PM  –  1:00 PM + The State of the News Media
  • 12:00 PM  –  1:00 PM + Introduction to Open Source and the Year in Review
  • 2:30 PM  –  3:30 PM + Recent Developments in Cybercrime Law

Friday, Feb. 5

  • 12:15 PM  –  1:15 PM + Constitutional Hardball: What We Learned from the Trump Presidency
  • 2:45 PM  –  3:45 PM + Privacy Implications of COVID Response Technologies
  • 4:00 PM  –  5:00 PM + Plenary: U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 Term

You will not want to miss the final plenary session on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 Term, which includes Adam Liptak from the New York Times; Mary-Rose Papandrea, Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the UNC School of Law; Andy Hessick, Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law at the UNC School of Law; Alli Larsen, Professor of Law and Director, Institute of the Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School; Richard A. Simpson from Wiley Rein, LLP; and Rick Su, Professor of Law at the UNC School of Law.

To register for the Festival, please visit their registration page.


Addressing the Decline of Local News, Rise of Platforms, and Spread of Mis- and Disinformation Online: A Summary of Current Research and Policy Proposals

I’m thrilled to announce that the Center for Media Law and Policy recently published a research paper titled “Addressing the Decline of Local News, Rise of Platforms, and Spread of Mis- and Disinformation Online: A Summary of Current Research and Policy Proposals.”

The whitepaper grew out of a workshop the Center hosted in November 2019 in conjunction with the UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media and UNC Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP), which brought together experts on the decline of local news, the rise of online platforms, and the spread of mis- and disinformation. The workshop was part of a two-day, interdisciplinary conference titled “Fostering an Informed Society: The Role of the First Amendment in Strengthening Local News and Democracy.” The conference began with a symposium at the UNC School of Law hosted by the First Amendment Law Review that examined the role of the First Amendment in creating an informed society and explored whether the Constitution places affirmative obligations on the government to ensure that citizens are informed.

The workshop, which is the subject of this whitepaper, took place on the second day at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and was co-led by Philip Napoli, James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. A full list of workshop attendees is included in Appendix A.

The whitepaper is organized in the same way we structured the workshop, starting with an overview of the decline of local news followed by a discussion of the rise of platforms and the spread of mis- and disinformation online. We then examine a number of regulatory and policy responses to the problems identified in the earlier sections and conclude by offering some suggestions for next steps. In Appendix B we provide a list of recent research and resources available for those who wish to engage in more study of these important issues.

Here is the abstract:

Technological and economic assaults have destroyed the for-profit business model that sustained local journalism in this country for two centuries. While the advertising-based model for local news has been under threat for many years, the COVID-19 pandemic and recession have created what some describe as an “extinction level” threat for local newspapers and other struggling news outlets. More than one-fourth of the country’s newspapers have disappeared, leaving residents in thousands of communities living in vast news deserts.

As local news sources decline, a growing proportion of Americans are getting their news and other information from social media. This raises serious concerns, including the spread of misinformation and the use of platform infrastructure to engage in disinformation campaigns. Platforms wield significant advantages over local news sources in the current information environment: the dominant platforms possess proprietary, detailed caches of user data, which the platforms use to force advertisers, users, and news outlets into asymmetrical relationships. In the vacuum left by the disappearance of local news sources, users are increasingly reliant on information sources that are incomplete, and may be misleading or deceptive.

This whitepaper examines current research related to the decline of local news, the rise of platforms, and the spread of mis- and disinformation and explores potential regulatory and policy responses to these issues. Some proposals focus on increasing the supply of – and demand for – local news, including increased public education and expanded support for journalists and local news organizations. Other proposals focus on market-based reforms that address the growing power disparities between news producers and platform operators as well as between platforms and their users.

Solutions to the difficult problems we face will require a multifaceted, multi-disciplinary approach. No one lever within the market, law, or society will deliver a magic bullet. Instead, experts and policymakers will need to pull at multiple levers using a new vocabulary to talk across the different disciplines – a set of new propositions that recognize the legal, social, journalistic, and economic principles at stake, particularly the harm done to democracy if the status quo continues.

You can download the full paper here or from SSRN.

The Hearst Foundations provided funding for the workshop, and funding for the preparation of the whitepaper was provided by the Hearst Foundations and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.