Date of Award

August 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies

First Advisor

David Pritchard

Committee Members

David S. Allen, Christopher R. Terry


Definitions of Journalists, Journalist's Privilege, Media Law, Policy Liberalism, Political Culture, Shield Law


This study examined the relationships between the strength of states' journalist's privileges and state characteristics. The state characteristics included political culture and policy liberalism. The study created an index to identify and score several important components of journalist's privilege in each state. The various components included the legal source of the privilege, when journalists could use the privilege, what types of information the privilege protected, and who could invoke the privilege. The study then used statistical tests to test the relationships between state characteristics and privilege strength. The results indicated that policy liberalism was a significant predictor of a state's journalist's privilege strength. Political culture was not related to privilege strength. In a larger context, the study's results added evidence to a larger trend that policy liberalism influences state media law. The results also found that several states limited journalist's privilege to traditional journalists. Only a small number of states have extended the privilege to non-traditional journalists, such as Internet journalists and book authors.