Right now at the American Association of Law School’s annual conference, the Section on Internet and Computer Law and the Section on Mass Communication Law are about to have a panel on a great topic: “Politics and the Media, New and Old”.
The abstract/write-up is below. (It’s very on-point for Blog Law Blog.) I’ll blog some coverage live once we start up, both here and on Twitter @tweetlawtweets.
As the Supreme Court recognized in ACLU v. Reno, “the Internet is ‘a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication’.” Among its unique features is that the Internet democratizes the opportunity to engage in political speech by offering ready access to any speaker with an Internet connection to large potential audiences at the local, state, national or global levels. This program assesses the impact the Internet has had to date on the relationship between the media and public officials or political candidates. Traditional newspapers are struggling to find a sustainable business model and appear to be losing some influence over the policy agenda or public officials’ conduct. Internet-only publications and other forms of political speech on the Internet have a complicated relationship with traditional media organizations, which, of course, also rely on the Internet to interact with their audiences. To what extent are these changes fostering or inhibiting democracy? Is law reform necessary in response to these changes?