New media law text encourages ‘thinking like a journalist.’

Review: ‘Media Law: A Practical Guide (Revised Edition),’ by Ashley Messenger

Reviewed by Carolyn Schurr Levin

“Media Law: A Practical Guide (Revised Edition),” by Ashley Messenger

Teaching media law to undergraduate journalism and communications students is challenging. The concepts are esoteric and complex, even for law students. For undergraduates, the laws often seem foreign and counterintuitive (tweets are copyrighted?!). Many of the media law textbooks and other resources are written by lawyers in language that seems directed to other lawyers or law students.

Luckily, in the mix of available course materials lies “Media Law: A Practical Guide (Revised Edition)”, by Ashley Messenger, who is NPR’s Associate General Counsel. This accessible and user-friendly book is an outlier. Although written by a lawyer, the language is direct and straightforward, exactly what you want for undergraduates, most of whom have never taken a law course before.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been teaching media law in various iterations – with and without ethics, in person and online, to undergraduates and graduate students – for almost two decades. In my classes, I have used many of the available resources, including the first edition of Messenger’s book, as well as other media law textbooks. Some of them have worked; others haven’t. Messenger’s book works. Continue reading “New media law text encourages ‘thinking like a journalist.’”