Freedom of Expression

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Freedom of Expression

JOMC 448: 448 Freedom of Expression in the United States (3). An examination of the development of freedom of expression in the United States within the context of the nation’s history.

Professor Jean Folkerts, Carroll 361. Cell: 919-265-3722. You may call anytime between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Teaching Assistant: Sada Reed

Class Time:  2-3:15 Wednesday; second class period online
Meeting Place:  Carroll Hall 253
Office Hours:  Tuesday, 3:30-5 p.m.
Wednesday, 3:15-4 p.m. or by apt.

Values and Competencies

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s accrediting body outlines a number of values you should be aware of and competencies you should be able to demonstrate by the time you graduate from our program.  You can learn more about them here:


No single course could possibly give you a solid grasp of all of these values and competencies; but collectively, our classes are designed to build your abilities in each of these areas.  Our advanced courses will provide you with more detailed guidance based on your specific area of specialization. In this class, we will address a number of the values and competencies, with special emphasis on 

  • understanding and applying the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press in the United States, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and to assemble and petition for redress of grievances;

  • demonstrating an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications.

Websites Important to the Course:

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

First Amendment Center

Southern Historical Collection Documents

Park Library Guide to Newspapers

Readings: Readings include those listed on this syllabus but may be expanded to include articles about current freedom of expression topics. Readings are due at the beginning of class on the day listed.

Required Books:
Jeffery A. Smith, War and Press Freedom. Oxford University Press, 1999, 336 pp.
Anthony Lewis, Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment. Vintage, 2011.
Fred W. Friendly, Minnesota Rag. Random House, 2013.
Anthony Lewis, Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment (Basic Books, 2008)


  • Eleven online assignments will be graded. You may discard the lowest grade, but you must complete all assignments. Online assignments count for 40% of the grade.

  • Exam I. 30%

  • Final Exam. 30%

Wednesday, August 21

  • Preface to Margaret Blanchard's Revolutionary Sparks.  Available in Resources.

  • Introduction to Lewis, Freedom for the Thought that we Hate.

  • Preface to Smith, War and Press Freedom.

  • Guest Speakers: Sada Reed and Elizabeth Woolery, “Using Discussion Boards.”

  • Introduction To Course and discussion of online elements.

Wednesday, August 28
Question of the Day: Did freedom of expression exist in colonial America?
Read & Explore:

  • Chapters 1, “Beginnings,” and 2 , “Odious or Contemptible,” in Lewis, Freedom for the Thought That We Hate. 

  • Online Assignment for the Week: Impartiality v Partisanship in the colonial press. See details in Assignments on SAKAI.

Wednesday, September 4
Question of the Day: What was the intent of the Press Clause and how has it been interpreted?
Read & Explore:

  • Chapter 3, “As All Life Is an Experiment,” in Lewis, Freedom.

  • Chapters 1-4, in Smith, War and Press Freedom.

  • Online Assignment for the Week: Exploring the Press Clause. Read

“The Press Clause Constructed in Context: The Journalists' Right of Access to Places” by Tom A. Collins of the William & Mary Law School. Discussion board topic is how press freedom for journalists can be understood through different media. Also read and use in your discussion.

Wednesday, September 11:
Question of the Day: How have presidents and other officials abridged the Freedom of the Press through actions that did not involve legislation?
Read & Explore:

  • Chapter 5, “The Rise of Presidential Prerogatives,” in Smith, War and Press Freedom.

  • Online Assignments of the Week: Check out Review the 1854 Archbishop Controversy and the 1816 Student Rebellion at UNC-Chapel Hill.

  • For a current example of administrative power over free expression, view recent guidelines by Department of Education:

Wednesday, September 18
Question of the Day: Why should we defend scurrilous publications?
Read and Explore:

  • Chapter 4, “Defining Freedom,” in Lewis, Freedom

  • Fred Friendly, Minnesota Rag , Chapters 1-6. 

  • Online Assignment for the Week: Find a current issue topic or legal case that is built around protecting speech many people you know would find unseemly. Discuss the case or issue on the discussion board.

Wednesday, September 25
Question of the Day: Can It Happen Here? View film describing the Speaker Ban at Carolina.
Read and Explore:

  • Friendly, Minnesota Rag, Chapters 7-Epilogue.

  • Online Assignment: Explore documents available on the Wilson Library website regarding the speaker ban and participate on the discussion board.

Wednesday, October 2
Question of the Day: Is censorship needed in wartime? If so, how can censorship occur while still protecting freedom of expression?
Read and Explore:

  • Chapter 6, “Wartime Censorship,” in Smith

  • Chapter 7, “Fear Itself,” in Lewis, Freedom.

  • Online Assignment for the Week: Using at least three sources in addition to this week’s readings, create a 250-word post that analyzes the difference in approaches to World War I and World War II censorship.

Wednesday, October 9
Question of the Day: Can an individual make a difference?
Read and Explore:

  • Lewis, Chapter 5, “Freedom and Privacy,” in Freedom.

  • View The Editor and the Dragon

  • Online Assignment for the Week: Find a story about a current editor who has exhibited the kind of courage shown in the Editor and the Dragon. Present your story on the discussion board.

Wednesday, October 16
Mid-Term Exam.

Wednesday, October 23
Question of the Day: How do journalists and the courts balance the rights of society against the rights and goals of the public who act as journalists?
Read and Explore

  • Lewis, Chapter 6, “A Press Privilege?” in Freedom.

  • No online assignment in honor of Fall Break.

Wednesday, October 30
Question of the Day: Why should standards differ for treatment of public officials or figures and the general public?
Read and Explore:

  • Anthony Lewis, Make no Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment.

  • Online Assignment: Find and explore a legal case that involves the public official/figure rule. Discuss your findings on the discussion board.

Wednesday, November 6
Questions of the Day: What is pornographic? What is obscene? How do people differ in their definitions? Why does it matter?
Read and Explore:

  • Lewis, Chapter 8, “Another’s Lyric”, in Freedom.

  • Online Assignment: Explore a current case dealing with obscenity or pornography and present on discussion board.

Wednesday, November 13
Question of the Day and Online Assignment: To be determined through in-class discussion of materials read across the semester.
Read and Explore:

  • Lewis, Chapter 9, “Vagabonds and Outlaws,” in Freedom.

  • Lewis, Chapter 10, “Thoughts That We Hate,” in Freedom.

Wednesday, November 20
Question of the Day: What are the best methods to use to convince citizens of the importance of the First Amendment?
Read and Explore:

  • Lewis, Chapter 11, “Balancing Interests,” in Freedom.

  • Lewis, Chapter 12, “Freedom of Thought,” in Freedom.

  • Online assignment to be determined relative to current events.

Wednesday, November 27 Thanksgiving Holiday. No Class.

Wednesday, December 4 Last day of Class.
Read and Explore:

  • Smith, Chapter 8: The Mass Media: Scapegoats and Sycophants and Conclusion.

  • Online assignment review for exam.

4 p.m. Friday, December 6 Final Exam due at 6 p.m.

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