Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Journalism

First Advisor

Charles Mitchell

Second Advisor

R. J. Morgan

Third Advisor

James A. Lumpp

Relational Format



This research helps to identify the history of attempts at passing a federal shield law for journalists in the United States, tracing back to when the need was originally recognized after the Supreme Court’s landmark Branzburg v. Hayes decision in 1972. The research also aims to help determine where journalists stand today, based on state statutes and court precedents, in terms of three pertinent issues: revealing anonymous sources, handing over newsgathering materials, and prosecuting journalists under the espionage act. To find this information, different historical and legal research methods were applied. By tracing through previous research, online guides and news articles, a better picture is painted of the history of these issues, and the attempted legislative processes can be better understood. It seems the current state of affairs in the United States leaves the media largely unable to fulfill their role of serving as the fourth estate by serving as a system of checks and balances for the other three branches of government due to their lack of legal protection, and the American people are the ones left to suffer.


Track: Academic



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