First Amendment Training

About this Lesson

Brett Johnson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
Journalism Studies,
Missouri School of Journalism,
University of Missouri

The field of mass communication law is vast. It has a rich, deep history, and it is expanding constantly as courts and legislatures respond to the disruptive force of the Internet. This video is designed to give you a broad overview of core principles of mass communication law and First Amendment freedoms of the press. It is meant to be a solid foundation upon which you can build your understanding of these principles.

What you will learn

After completing this unit, you should be able to:

• Identify the general right that First Amendment gives to journalists

• Recognize the exceptional nature of First Amendment protections for freedom of the press, particularly with regard to prior restraint, defamation and the publication of truthful information that has been legally obtained

• Understand why the Supreme Court has held that student journalists at public high schools have a lesser degree of freedom than adult journalists

• Recognize that some states have given greater statutory protection to student journalists at public high schools in the wake of the 1988 Hazelwood decision

How the lesson works

First of all, this is an asynchronous lesson unit, which means no live events are scheduled for this lesson. You can complete learning activities at your own pace whenever is convenient for you. Despite the asynchronous nature, the learning tasks are organized to help you succeed.

To be successful in this unit, please complete the following tasks:

• Watch the lecture.
• Take the quiz to test your own understanding.  This will help you to strengthen the concepts you just learned.
Optional: Due to the amount of content to be covered in a single unit, we encourage you read these additional resources. Some of the quiz questions might come from the readings in Additional Resources section.

Watch the Lecture



Click on the Launch button to start

 Take the Quiz


Direction: Some of the questions might from the readings in Additional Resources below


Click on the Launch button to start

Lesson Resources

Lecture Script: Download it here

Printable Quiz: First Amendment and Scholastic Press Rights

ASNE Classroom Resources

Lessons: First Amendment and Scholastic Press Rights

Additional Resources

Student Press Law Center (SPLC)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – especially useful for understanding copyright law

David R. Wheeler, The Atlantic: “Do Students Still Have Free Speech in School?

Tom Jacobs, New York Times: “10 Supreme Court Cases Every Teen Should Know

Knight Foundation: “High School Students Support First Amendment Freedoms More than Adults for the First Time in a Decade

Michael Simpson, National Education Association: “Social Networking Nightmares: Cyberspeak No Evil


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