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JOUR 4250 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

JOUR 4250 - Mass Media Law

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course examines legal guarantees and restrictions on the flow of information using the case study method. The course focus is placed on libel, privacy, obscenity, and the special restrictions placed on advertising, broadcasting, cable TV and the Internet.

Course Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Gain an overview of trends in mass media law and regulation.
  • Gain an understanding of the roles of mass media in government, the economy, and society.
  • Improve skills in research and presentation of research.
  • Gain knowledge to improve one's perspective as a consumer, media practitioner, and citizen in an information-based society.
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

Junior or senior standing.

Course Topics:
  • Introduction to the Law-Theory and Philosophy
  • Introduction to the Law-The Judicial Process
  • Freedom of the Press
  • Libel
  • Privacy
  • Free Press/Fair Trial
  • Records and Meetings
  • Advertising/Commercial Speech
  • Copyright
  • Obscenity
  • Broadcasting/Cable
  • Internet

Readings for these topics are available at the Course Modules. 

Specific Course Requirements:

To achieve these goals, students will:

  • Read the assigned materials.
  • Participate in the class discussion group.
  • Conduct research on a media law and policy "Hot Topic."
  • Subscribe to "News Media Update" from the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press.
  • Complete a research project.
  • Take quizzes.

More details of these assignments are available in the Assignments section. Assignment and project deadlines also are available on the Calendar pages. 

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:
Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

Assessments for the semester will include a vocabulary quiz and three content quizzes. More information about the quizzes are available at: Quizzes 

Grading Procedures:

Grading for the discussion questions, content quizzes, and research projects will include evaluation of use and understanding of case law, logic of arguments, clarify of arguments, and clarity of writing. 

Grading Scale:
Point RangeAssigned Grade
90-100 PointsA
80-89 PointsB
70-79 PointsC
60-69 PointsD
under 60 PointsF


Assignments and Projects:

Discussion Questions
Research Projects
"Hot Topic" Project
Semester Project 

Semester project, 1 @ 250 points250 points
Discussion questions, 12 @ 25 points each300 points
Content quizzes, 3 @ 100 points each300 points
"Hot Topic" paper, 1 @ 100 point100 points
Vocabulary quiz, 1 @ 50 points50 points
Total Points1000 Points


Class Participation:

Students must be actively engaged in class assignments. Failure to communicate with classmates and with the instructor will not only affect class performance but also limit the intellectual challenge and enjoyment of the class. 

Late Policy:

Timely submission of assignments is key to success in this course. Answers and responses to discussion questions all will receive individual critiques. Students can use information from critiques of assignments to improve performance on future assignments. Failure to submit these assignments will not only result in a loss of grades for the semester average but also will mean that you will not receive feedback that will help you with future answers and responses. Answers and responses to discussion questions will receive late penalties if not submitted by deadline and will not be accepted at all after posting of instructor's notes for the discussion question. You will have 24 hours to provide answers for each quiz. Answers will not be accepted at the end of the time limit. Late submission of your semester project will result in the loss of a letter grade. Assignment and project deadlines are available on the Calendar pages. 

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on April 28, 2017