Media Freedom and Human Rights
Elective Course, Media and Communications Specialization/Concentration
This course examines the complex and multi-facetted relationship between the media and human rights in today’s world. More specifically, against the backdrop of contemporary challenges and current controversies concerning media freedom, this course specifically focuses on the scope and limitations of the rights and freedoms of the media – particularly journalists, and those with whom they work, notably their sources – as protected by international law. This course addresses such subjects as: international standards on media freedom; impunity for attacks on journalists; the impact of defamation laws; the regulation of the press; counter-terrorism policies and the media; the media’s role in reporting abuses and human rights advocacy; and the media’s role in promoting intercultural understanding and development goals. It also identifies major and emerging cross-cutting themes including: the interactions between the media and other actors (notably, state authorities, NGOs, the public at large and corporations); the relative importance placed on media freedom compared to other values (e.g. pluralism and diversity) and rights (e.g. equality, privacy and security); the challenges and opportunities of the Internet; and the media’s exceptional role in exposing human rights abuses.
By the end of the course, students should be able to benefit from:
1. the ability to identify key contemporary challenges to media freedom and to present policy solutions to such challenges;
2. a critical understanding of relevant international principles, norms and standards concerning media freedom;
3. a critical understanding of the key international actors, institutions and processes concerning media freedom;
4. a critical understanding of the role of the media in international human rights advocacy and practice.
All the classes require students to read the assigned materials and to participate in class.
The final grade will be based on the following:
1. class participation
2. one oral assignment
3. one written assignment
4. a final, take home exam