In an era when the work of the news media can be casually labeled as “fake news,” its role as the watchdog of government on behalf of the public is worth reviewing and understanding. In this edition of Justice Alaska on Hometown Alaska, First Amendment attorney John McKay will walk us through legal protections afforded the press under the U.S. Constitution. We’ll look at pivotal U.S. Supreme Court cases that interpret the First Amendment to limit the government’s ability to restrict publication and the ability of public figures to sue for press coverage they dislike.
The 14th Amendment extends those protections to the states. McKay, who has taught media law for more than 30 years, also represents many Alaska news organizations in their quest to inform the public. In addition to a law degree, he has a masters in journalism. His publications include Alaska Reporters Legal Handbook; The Open Government Guide, published by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. He was the first recipient of the Alaska Press Club’s First Amendment Award in 2007, and in 2011 he was recognized as one of “40 Heroes of Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties.”
So, why were the founders so adamant about a free press? Where are the vulnerabilities in this protection as the media landscape changes? How does press freedom play out in Alaska?
Bring your questions and comments and join us in this important American and Alaska conversation.
HOST: Kathleen McCoy
- John McKay, attorney and First Amendment expert
- First Amendment, U.S. Constitution, Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute
- U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, website maintained by Freedom of the Press Foundation and Committee to Protect Journalists
- Full text of Senator Jeff Flake’s 1.16.18 speech on “fake news” and press manipulation, video and transcript, Politico
- How Free is Freedom of the Press, 5 min TED talk by Trevor Timm, executive director Freedom of Press Foundation
- Libel protections for the press, Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute
- New York Times Co. vs Sullivan, 1964 US Supreme Court case defining actual malice
- New York Times Co. vs United States, 1971 US Supreme Court case upholding publication of Pentagon Papers by NYT and Washington Post
- Near vs Minnesota, 1931 US Supreme Court case holding that prior restraint violates press freedom
- Americans’ attitudes about the media deeply divided along partisan lines, Pew Research Center, May 2017
- Study: Americans view media negatively, can’t agree on meaning of “fake news.” Politico, 1.16.18
- 10 Reasons why American trust in the media is at an all-time low, Knight Foundation
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, website
ALASKA SPECIFIC LINKS:
- The Open Meetings Act, AK Statute 44.62.310-44.62.470
- Alaska Open Meeting Act, Ballotpedia
- Joe Miller: Failed Senate candidate settles with North Star Borough, ADN, 6.19.12
- Alaska Dispatch Editor Tony Hopfinger after arrest by Joe Miller’s private security guards, 10.17.2010
- An embarrassment for Universal: fabricated news stories, Los Angeles Times, 11.13.2009
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LIVE: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.
REPEAT: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.