St. Thomas University 2003
Free Speech and the Free Press
Course Instructor-Julian H. Walker
Classes will be WF 9:00 to 10:20, ECHG11

The course will explore the emergence of two essential elements of democracy, free speech and the free press. It will consider how journalists and other thinkers fought to attain free speech and the free press—freedoms did not just emerge. In fact, blood was shed to achieve them. With the backdrop of the gains made by journalistic pioneers, we will look at the importance of the “pursuit of truth” in journalism and how bringing new information to light, and doing it quickly, has become essential. We will also consider how journalism seeks the truth through explanation, analysis and criticism. The course will, as well, examine journalism in the marketplace, and the need to be entertaining, patriotic and profitable. We will probe the concentration of modern media ownership and the need for quality and diversity of voices. Written work for the course will include an extended journalistic assignment on a topic that illustrates an aspect of the modern state of free speech and the free press.

Office hours will be in Room ___BMH, Wednesday and Friday 10:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Meetings can be arranged at other times as mutually agreed. Students discussing papers for the following week will have preference on Fridays.

Attendance is compulsory. You will be able to miss (without excuse) three classes per term without penalty. In the participation grade of 15 per cent, marks will be lost at a rate of two per absence after your three free days. Wherever possible, notice of missing class e.g. doctor’s appointment, should be provided in advance by e-mail. Excellent attendance is vital for the course’s seminar format to work well.

Plagiarism is not tolerated at St. Thomas. See page 237 of the calendar for the university policy on plagiarism.

There will be a mid-term test in class on Friday, Oct. 31. This will primarily be a writing exercise to get in the game and see how you are doing on the early concepts of the course. The Christmas exam will be held Dec. 12. The Final exam will be held April 16, 2004 at 9 a.m.

Marking will be based on the following division with marks broken down for the entire year. If you are a student in good standing (have missed three or less classes) you will be able to use the Christmas or final exam as a make-up for a previous assignment test or assignment you have missed or in which you did not do as well:

Participation 15%
Impressionistic Piece 5%
Class Paper (I) 10%
Fall Mid-term Test 5%
Christmas Exam 10%
Class Paper (II) 10%
Case Study piece 25%
Final Exam 20%
Total 100%

The course will consist of 28 weeks of class work during the fall and winter terms. The Wednesday class will be a lecture/discussion class, while the Friday class will normally have a seminar format and we will change the configuration of the room accordingly. With the relatively small class size, we will sit as one seminar group. One (sometimes two) student will (each) be responsible for preparing a 1,500-word journalistic paper (three sides single-spaced) to present at the Friday class.

The vital ingredient of the paper (the format for which will be the same for the fall and winter Class papers and the main Case Study [negotiable]) is a strong point of view on issues in the course. It must not simply be a chronicling of events, but must clearly argue a thesis i.e. have a strong point of view. Taking a position and arguing for it is an essential part of this class.

Another student (or two students in the case of two papers) will act as “discussant” for the paper (papers) by commenting on it and encouraging discussion. The discussant should put forward any alternate arguments to the point of view in the paper. A general class discussion will proceed with a strong effort to draw conclusions based on the themes of the course. Both the presenters and the discussant are responsible for keeping the discussion rolling, but all members of the class must have done the readings. You will be expected to participate in each class.

The presenters for a given week will have a meeting with the instructor after class on the previous Friday to go over a draft of the paper. The students will then be able to circulate a final draft to the rest of the class at the following Wednesday class, and all students will be expected to have read the paper for the Friday class. (Photocopying will be paid for if the paper is submitted to

Debbie Coughlin, 3rd. floor BMH on Monday, two days prior to the paper being circulated to your colleagues on Wednesday. Please copy double-sided to reduce costs).

Following the seminar, the paper presenters will draw on the class conclusions, as well as further readings, to develop an expanded journalistic piece of 3,000 words (double-spaced) on the same topic. This piece should be submitted to Debbie Coughlin. The paper is due three weeks after your presentation to the seminar i.e. your presentation is on Sept. 19; your final piece is due in class on Oct. 10.

Topics for the fall term will be chosen early in the first term. Overall topics will be taken from the readings, but you are encouraged to bring current issues into your class presentations and discussions at every stage of the course. For instance, items currently in the media, including the Aquinian and other campus publications, are welcome.

Late in the first term, students will be asked to select a topic for a major journalistic piece for the second term. The process will be the same for that paper, with a 1,500 initial thesis piece and then a 5,000 word Case Study in magazine, newspaper (i.e. newspaper series) or essay format developed after class.

The schedule for second term presentations will be developed late in the fall.

Topics for the case study could include any of the following, or another topic as mutually agreed:

*The Hutchins Commission on (US) media, 1947
*The Uncertain Mirror, The Davey Commission on the Canadian Mass Media, 1970
*Royal Commission on Newspapers (Kent Commission, 1981)
*The Media and the October Crisis, 1970
*The John Robin Sharpe Pornography case
*The Malcolm Ross case
*The Gulf War, Journalist as Super Scud.
*The Terry Milewski Case 1999
*The Tom Murphy Case, UNB campus 1969
*The Russell Mills Affair
*Polite Journalism Following Sept. 11
*Coverage of the New Brunswick 2003 Provincial election
*New Brunswick Media Concentration
*Journalists and the Iraq war, 2003

Required Readings for the course are contained in a Course Pack (reasonably-priced). The pack will include some of the finest writings on journalism that will serve as a great foundation for your journalistic career. The readings for the most part are short and you are expected to read an average of about 10 pages per week.

I Fighting for Free Expression/ Free Press

  1. John Merrill, The Imperative of Freedom, p 223-231, in Steven R. Knowlton and Patrick R. Parsons The Journalist’s Moral Compass, Praeger, Westport, Conn., 1995.
  2. John Merrill, Introduction, p. 1-15, The Dialectic in Journalism, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1989.
  3. Steven R. Knowlton and Patrick R. Parsons, Introduction to John Milton p 11-12 The Journalist’s Moral Compass, Praeger, Westport, Conn., 1995.
  4. John Milton, excerpt from Areopagitica (1644), and with an Introduction p. 435-438 by editors Albert C. Baugh and George William McLelland in English Literature: A Period Anthology, Appleton-Century-Crofts Inc., New York, 1954.
  5. John Adams et al, The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.
  6. Thomas Jefferson writings from the 1785-1815 period, Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government, Internet source, p 1-10
  7. Maximilien Robespierre, Liberty of the Press (1791), p. 66-8, in The Journalist’s Moral Compass.
  8. Tunis Wortman, A Treatise Concerning Political Inquiry and the Liberty of the Press (1801), p. 58-65, in The Journalist’s Moral Compass.
  9. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859), p. 69-81, from, The Journalist’s Moral Compass.
  10. Joseph Howe (1935) Chap. 9, The King v. Joseph Howe p. 129-146, from J. M. Beck, Joseph Howe, Vol I, McGill-Queens University Press, Montreal 1982.
  11. Kent R. Middleton, William E. Lee and Bill F. Chamberlin, The First Amendment, p. 22-57, The Law of Public Communication, New York, 2003.
  12. Matt Hentoff, p. 1-3 Chilling Free Speech on Campuses, from The Village Voice, Internet source
  13. Pierre Trudeau et al, p. 1-7, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982).
  14. Robert Martin and G. Stuart Adam, Chap. 1, p. 1-5, A Sourcebook of Canadian Media Law, Carleton University Press, Ottawa, 1994

II The Press: Seeking The Truth

  1. Plato, The Republic (circa 367 BC), p. 90-94, from The Journalist’s Moral Compass.
  2. Walter Lippman, Public Opinion (1922) p. 100-111, from The Journalist’s Moral Compass.
  3. Daniel Boorstin, The Image (1964), p. 133-46, from The Journalist’s Moral Compass
  4. Sissela Bok, Lying (1979), p. 147-54, from The Journalist’s Moral Compass.

III The Press in the Marketplace

  1. Adam Smith, An inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, p. 155- 164, from The Journalist’s Moral Compass,
  2. Karl Marx Chap. XXXII in Capital Vol. 1, p.165-9 Journalist’s Moral Compass.
  3. Karl Marx, A contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, p.42-46, in Lewis S. Feuer (ed) Marks and Engels, Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy, Doubleday, New York, 1959.
  4. Joseph Pulitzer, The Great Issue, p. 179-183, from The Journalist’s Moral Compass.
  5. A. J. Liebling, Prologue: The end of the Free Lunch, p. 191-5, The Journalist’s Moral Compass.


Part I: Fighting for Free Expression/Free Press
Sept. 5-12 Course Introduction, picking topics and lecture/discussion on Merrill dialectic and Milton.
Readings: Merrill (2), Knowlton, Milton

Sept. 17-26 The two big revolutions and FE/FS
Readings: Adams, Jefferson, Robespierre, Wortman

Oct. 1-10 The British and Canadian view: Mill, Howe et al.
Readings: Mill, Howe

(Thanksgiving weekend)

Oct. 15-31 The First Amendment to the US Constitution
The Canadian Charter of Rights
Which press is freer?
Readings: Middleton, Hentoff, Trudeau, Martin

Wed. Nov. 5 Review class/Flex
Fri. Nov. 7 Mid term test in class

Part II The Press Seeking the Truth
Nov. 12-19 Plato and The Allegory of the Cave
Truth, Lies, and Video Tape
Readings: Plato, Lippman, Boorstin and Bok et al

Fri. Nov. 28 Catch-up/Flex class
Wed. Dec. 3 Review class
Dec. 4-7 Reading days, no classes.
Dec. 8-16 Exam period.
Fri. Dec. 12 Christmas Exam


Wed. Jan. 7, 2004 First class, begin III The Press in the Marketplace
Tues. Feb. 3 Chancellor’s Day
Mar. 3-5 No classes, MID-TERM BREAK
Wed. April 7 (last 4006 class)
April 8 Last Day of University Classes
April 9-12 Easter weekend, university closed
Friday April 16, 9 a.m., Final exam 4006