J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Press and the Law: Friends or Foes?

A panel discussion entitled “Press and the Law: Friends or Foes?” gave members of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society an insight on some current issues regarding how the law is impacting the press and also how the press is impacting the law.


First to speak was Jeffery J. Hunt, of Parr Brown in Salt Lake City, who explained how law is impacting the press. He discussed important legal consequences of new and emerging media crowding out its traditional media counterpart, specifically that new media does not have the financial resources to hire legal counsel. 


“With 30 million bloggers and 1.5 million posts per week -- all of which falls under First Amendment protection, the new and emerging media is a frontier for new legal precedence,” Hunt said.


Hunt went on to address accountability issues with online anonymity and it’s relationship with content liability. He also discussed reporter shield laws and their applicability to both traditional roles and titles compared to those of the new and emerging media.


RonNell Andersen Jones, a professor at BYU Law School, then took on the topic of how the press is impacting the law. She explained that the disaggregation of information, or the “death of newspapers”,  is having a negative impact on the flow of information to the individual and in consequence has weakened democracy.


She discussed the democracy enhancing role of the traditional media and explained how their legal resources were a much-needed check on government to ensure the right to information and other protections.


Jones was not advocating that new media be thrown out and we return to the traditional media, but rather that we actively pursue a solution for some of these future problems. She suggested that the solution lies in creating litigation and legislative incentives to promote freedom to information rights.

Posted: 2010-02-22