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The Media-as-a-Constitutional-Component Concept: A New Theory for Media Freedom in the Age of Citizen Journalism

Coe, Peter James (2019) The Media-as-a-Constitutional-Component Concept: A New Theory for Media Freedom in the Age of Citizen Journalism. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Coe PJ School of Law PhD 2019.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
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This thesis contends that the law’s treatment of media freedom as a normative concept needs to be modernised. In doing so it draws upon the notion that there are two categories of free speech: (i) the personal right to freedom of expression; and (ii) media freedom. It argues that the latter ought to be treated differently to the former. However, in the current categorisation of who belongs to which group, there is a gap, as there is a definable category of actors who are, as citizen journalists, effectively, ‘media’, but are not recognised as such. This is problematic, as citizen journalists, facilitated by social media, are no longer an outlier of free speech. Rather, they are central to how we receive and impart information and ideas. Consequently, it offers a new workable definition of media based on a ‘media-as-a-constitutional-component concept’. This concept is underpinned by social responsibility theory (as opposed to libertarianism which, it is argued, is an inappropriate foundation for modern media speech despite it being the de facto communication theory for online speech) and the argument from democratic self-governance, which provides the appropriate framework to facilitate this modernisation and ‘plug the gap’. Throughout the thesis, a comparative approach is taken to the formulation and application of the concept, and to the legal challenges presented by citizen journalism that it attempts to meet, including the media’s standards of behaviour and norms of public discourse, anonymous and pseudonymous speech, contempt of court, defamation and regulation. Ultimately, the thesis concludes by setting out principles for a new regulatory framework that would effectively capture citizen journalists.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Citizen journalism, media, the press, free speech and freedom of expression, media freedom, media regulation
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Law (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Peter James Coe
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2019 09:41
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2019 09:41
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25094

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