A course I’ll be teaching this fall: The First Amendment and the Media

JRNL 3550
CRN 10387
Tuesday and Friday, 8 to 9:40 a.m.
Attributes: The Learning Link, NU Core Capstone, NUpath Capstone Experience, NUpath Ethical Reasoning, NUpath Societies/Institutions, NU Core Writing Intsv in Majr, NUpath Writing Intensive, UG Col of Arts, Media & Design

During the Fall 2018 semester, I’ll be teaching The First Amendment and the Media, a required course for journalism majors and minors that is open to all undergraduates across the university. Our theme will be “Free Speech in a Time of Peril.” At a moment when the news media are under scrutiny as never before, with President Trump and his supporters labeling journalism they don’t like as “fake news,” we will examine freedom of speech and of the press with an aim toward understanding why they are a crucial part of our democracy.

Among the topics we’ll explore:

  • Prior restraint — that is, censorship — and why it is considered an affront to the Constitution, as seen in the Pentagon Papers case depicted in the film “The Post.”
  • How our understanding of libel has changed over the centuries, and why it’s important that public officials and public figures can’t use the libel laws to harass journalists.
  • Copyright and how it is changed in the digital age, when making perfect copies of films, music and other media has become as easy as clicking on a trackpad.

We will read some of the great Supreme Court cases that helped shape the modern First Amendment. This course is for anyone who has an interest in how freedom of speech and of the press came to be regarded as central to our ability to inform and govern ourselves in a democratic society. And yes, we’ll have some fun, too.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me at dan dot kennedy at northeastern dot edu.

A little about me

I am an associate professor of journalism at Northeastern University and a nationally known media commentator. I am a regular panelist on WGBH-TV’s award-winning weekly media program, “Beat the Press,” and I write a weekly column on media and politics for WGBHNews.org. I am also an occasional contributor to the Nieman Journalism Lab and have written for The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, The Boston Globe and other publications.

My most recent book, “The Return of the Moguls: How Jeff Bezos and John Henry Are Remaking Newspapers for the Twenty-First Century,” was published in 2018 by ForeEdge. My previous book, “The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age,” was published in 2013 by the University of Massachusetts Press.

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