MEDIA LAW COURSE SYLLABUS                                                     


MEDIA LAW – JOURNALISM 534, SECTION 001                                           

Adjunct Professor Daniel W. Burnett, QC                                           

Jan 7 – April 7, 2016 – Tuesdays 9:00-12:00 noon at UBC Downtown (Robson Square)

Instructor:  Adjunct Prof. Daniel W. Burnett, Tel: 604-691-7506;

Course Description:

The course will offer an understanding of the Canadian legal system and the workings of legal proceedings, aimed at journalists reporting on the Courts. It will explore the ways in which reporters cover the courts and sometimes become involved in issues over access and openness.  The course will cover the legal restrictions upon reporters, including defamation, contempt, publication bans, privacy, intellectual property and freedom of expression issues.  Current cases in the news as well as those affecting journalists, along with example stories raising legal issues will be used as lesson examples.

Course Approach:

The approach will be to use a combination of instruction on the law and working through practical example stories. The objective is for students to learn to spot and deal with the legal “red flags” in each situation from an early stage and to report on legal matters with an accurate context.  In the course of exploring issues, discussion about important legal and philosophical questions will be encouraged.

Professional Standards:

The course will follow the standards of professional journalists, meaning punctuality, organization, attendance, time management as well as articulate, thoughtful, forceful yet respectful contributions both in written work and class discussion.

Marking: The mark for the course will be based upon:

  1. Class participation: 10%
  2. Mid term exam 25%
  3. Term paper 30%
  4. Final exam 35%

Books and Materials:

No text required. See required readings on Reading List.

Class Communication:

The instructor requires your correct email address as virtually all out-of-class communications will be via email. You are responsible for notifying your instructor of any change with your email address.  The class website will also provide notices, copies of class slides, etc.

Class Communication:

Information about guest speakers and topics emergent in the context of the course will be posted on the course website Your correct email address will be required as other communications may be via email.

Other Class Policies:

All UBC law students are subject to the University’s rules on Academic Misconduct (, and are expected to act with academic integrity at all times. Students should be especially aware of the University’s rules in relation to plagiarism. Plagiarism includes: copying the work of another student; copying or paraphrasing from a textbook or reference book, journal article, case or electronic source without proper footnoting; copying your own work that has already been submitted for another course in this degree or another degree, passing off the ideas of another person as your own. If you plagiarize, you will be subject to penalties set out in the UBC calendar. (,54,111,959)

In this class: 1) everyone is allowed to feel they can learn in a safe and caring environment; 2) everyone learns about, understands, appreciates, and respects varied races, classes, genders, physical and mental abilities, and sexualities; 3) everyone matters; 4) all individuals are to be respected and treated with dignity and civility; and 5) everyone shares the responsibility for making the class, and the Academy, a positive and better place to live, work, and learn. (Source: