Tag Archives | Scholarship

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.


Student to Publish in Hastings Comm/Ent Law Journal

P. Brooks Fuller, a second-year Ph.D. student and Roy H. Park Fellow in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has had an article accepted for publication in the Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal (Comm/Ent). The article, “Evaluating Intent in True Threats Cases: The Importance of Context in Analyzing Threatening Internet Messages,” will appear in the Fall issue of Comm/Ent. The journal is published by the University of California’s Hastings College of Law and is among the best-known law reviews specializing in communications law and policy issues. The article is based on a research paper written for one of the J-School’s graduate media law courses. Brooks also presented his research earlier this month at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Montreal, Canada.

Brooks’ article examines federal courts’ treatment of Internet threats in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Virginia v. Black. The full abstract is below.

Following the Supreme Court’s most recent ruling on the true threats doctrine, Virginia v. Black (2003), significant conflict emerged among the federal circuit courts. The primary issue is whether an objective or subjective standard should apply to statutes that criminalize threats. Speakers’ use of social networking websites and Internet forums for the purposes of posting violent and intimidating communications raises significant questions regarding the posture of the true threats doctrine and its application to modern modes of communication. This paper utilizes legal research methods to examine federal courts’ treatment of Internet threats and highlights aspects of Internet speech that are particularly problematic for the doctrine. Ultimately, this paper calls for the Supreme Court to revisit the true threats doctrine in light of significant inconsistency among the circuits regarding the impact of the Internet on recipients of threatening communications.


Center Co-Director Authors New Media Law Casebook


David Ardia, co-director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, is a co-author of a new edition of Media and the Law, a casebook published by LexisNexis. Congratulations, David!

The book is authored by David Kohler, Lee Levine, Ardia, Dale Cohen and Mary-Rose Papandrea.  Ardia, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Law, is a new author on the book beginning with this edition.

This marketing flyer talks about what is new in the second edition and includes a table of contents.  If you are so inclined, you can order the book here.


J-School PhD Student awarded Google Policy Fellowship

woolery_liz-150x150UNC Center for Media Law and Policy staffer Liz Woolery has been awarded a Google Policy Fellowship to work at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute in Washington, D.C., this summer.  Congratulations, Liz!

Liz was one of 20 chosen to work at 20 U.S. public interest and technology policy organizations.  She is a Ph.D. student in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication and has organized events for the media law center for three years.

Liz says her time this summer will be spent developing best practices for transparency reporting by tech and telecom companies. She also will examine issues related to information gathering and data collection in public places — her dissertation topic.

The New America Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy institute that invests in thinkers and ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States, specifically challenges brought on by the information-age economy.

The Google Policy Fellowship program was inspired by Google’s Summer of Code with a public policy twist. The Google Policy Fellowship program offers undergraduate, graduate and law students interested in Internet and technology policy the opportunity to spend the summer contributing to the public dialogue on these issues, and exploring future academic and professional interests.


The Democratic Surround: New Media Technologies as Tools of Personal and Social Liberation

glimpses-1On March 27th, Fred Turner, associate professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, will visit the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy to talk about his new book, The Democratic Surround.

At the broadest level, in The Democratic Surround and the previously published From Counterculture to Cyberculture Fred Turner’s project is to explain how we have come to see new media technologies as tools of personal and social liberation – not tools of social control.  Indeed, the World War II generation feared that one-way media was creating authoritarian personalities and giving rise to brainwashed fascists. Meanwhile, members of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the 1960s adorned themselves with computer punch cards and signs that read “I am a UC student. Please do not fold, bend, mutilate, or spindle me” to protest technocratic society.

The process of culturally revaluing media technologies spanned the 1930s through the 1990s, the period that marked the development of our current technological imaginary (see, for instance, Robin Mansell’s Imagining the Internet.) The Democratic Surround offers a prequel of sorts to From Counterculture to Cyberculture, showing that our own multimedia stylings have a deeper history than the counterculturalists of the 1960s. Turner shows that the countercultural vision of media as, in McLuhan’s terms, “extensions of man,” and tools that can be enlisted in democratic projects of new world making has startling roots in the 1930s and 1940s.  It was a time when the public, leaders, and many scholars feared that mass media propaganda produced mass men, totalitarian societies, and rendered the psyche impervious to reason.  In this world, an enterprising set of artists, intellectuals, and social and political elites turned to media as a potential tool – not of social control, but of democratic liberation.  Together they created multi-media environments suffused with image, music, and architecture. Turner calls these environments “democratic surrounds.”  These individuals believed that surrounds had the power to create democratic personalities – rational and autonomous individuals with firm commitments to racial and religious diversity and democratic solidarity. This new democratic personalities would do battle with authoritarian personalities; to fight fascism required creating new democratic citizens through media.  If propaganda created one-way communication channels that left no room for free thought and fashioned free individuals into automatons, the democratic surround’s immersive media environments fostered democratic citizens who were free to navigate their own way through media.

It was this idea of the surround that Turner tells us migrated from the Second World War to the art worlds of the Cold War.  Intellectuals, artists, and policy makers continued to see the democratic personality as something that needed to be created and nurtured through media, now in the struggle against communism.  At sites such as North Carolina’s Black Mountain College – where John Cage performed the first happening – and the Museum of Modern Art, artists worked out the cultural genres of multi-media surrounds.  By the 1950s, these multi-mediated projects of democratic personality building would make their way to the staging of the 1958 World’s Fair and 1959 American National Exhibition – where Khrushchev and Nixon had their famous “kitchen debate.”

As Turner argues, while the democratic surround was initially aimed at fighting totalitarianism, by the 1950s it quickly bled into a modeling of equally political and consumer choices. It was a particularly influential branch of the counterculture that drew on the media forms and ideas of surrounds during the 1960s. Turner tells this history in From Counterculture to Cyberculture, which traces the emergence of many of the cultural styles, modes of thought, political stances, and collaborative cultures that surround us today from the 1960s on through to the new economy of the 1990s. The “New Communalists” left politics in the streets in the late 1960s and early 1970s and went back to the land carrying commercial technologies and cold war tools to create decidedly new world communes, geodesic domes dotting the landscape.  The Whole Earth Catalog connected these back-to-the-landers, and later it was the early computer network system Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link (WELL) that by the 1980s early adopters in Silicon Valley believed was creating new forms of community, connection, and, shared consciousness.

The WELL did so in a rapidly changing world, one that was marked by the precariousness of labor in the high tech industry of the Valley.  Turner argues that the New Communalist imagination of the computer, and networked media more broadly, as tools of personal and social liberation helped information workers see their labor as liberating and in terms of building new societies. And yet, this cultural scaffolding helped these workers elide all the ways that mediated sociality supported freelance networking for piecework in the Valley. By the early 1990s, a host of media objects such as Wired magazine and the sweeping manifesto A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace distilled the New Communalist vision and extended it into the emerging new economy, creating a cultural framework for the new right’s libertarianism to be wedded to computer cultures. In the 1990s it was the riot of color and font that was Wired, in our own moment it is the colorful countercultural stylings of Google. The feeling of radically new peer-to-peer collaboration present on the WELL is not far from social movements such as Occupy Wall Street that are animated by connective action, consensus-seeking, and non-hierarchical forms. Techno-libertarianism animated back-to-the-landers and underpins many remix, peer, and DIY cultures, as well as social media startups, today.

Through it all, the democratic surround persists as a powerful vision and media form, one that animated many projects to reinvent social and political forms. As Turner tells us, the surround is both a new media genre and a model of organizing societies and working out the relationship of individuals to collectives.  Turner’s book offers a rich vision of our past that sheds new light on our own contemporary media projects, from the forms of organizing and connective action that have powered numerous contemporary projects of collective liberation, to the ways that networked media are entwined with the intractability of institutions and bureaucracies. Turner’s account of the surround in the 1950s is also markedly resonant with our own time – not just for the ways that the counterculture took up the themes of personality, psychological liberation, and new community building that infused early internet imaginaries and continues to do so today, but also how commercialism sits uneasily beside these liberating ideals.