What was the legal question?

First Amendment, Journalism, and Media Ownership.

Objective: 1. Develop and employ an “interdisciplinary” (Communication, Sociology, Political Science) lens to critique the journalist’s role in the media and the media’s role in society. 2.Understand the ethical guidelines and laws that govern journalism in the US.

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1.New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)

2 Miami Herald v. Tornillo (1974)

3. Blumenthal v. Drudge (1998)

4. Obsidian Finance Group v. Crystal Cox, (2014)

Look up each case above (they are all iconic cases and there is a TON of information about them online) and consider the following:

a. What were the circumstances? (background)

b. What was the legal question?

c. What was the verdict and historical impact? Prior Restraint of Actual Malice?


These cases deal with defamation and the intersection of the First Amendment and the rights of news media outlets. In a brief 2-3 page essay:

1. What do the court cases tell us about the extent or conditions of First Amendment protection journalists or media outlets?

2. As well, what are potential ways do these cases identify ways media ownership can “chill” a journalist’s ability to inform the public?

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