Dr. Jonathan Peters

Assistant Professor, Journalism

ABOUT

Dr. Peters, who holds an affiliate faculty position in the UGA School of Law, specializes in communication law and policy. He is also the press freedom correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review.

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EDUCATION

Ph.D., Journalism, University of Missouri
J.D., Ohio State University
B.S., Journalism, Ohio University

RESEARCH INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES

Dr. Peters researches communication law and policy, and most of his work is in two areas. First, he studies how Internet companies make decisions about the content they host and the speech they intermediate, along with the role that First Amendment principles play in those decisions. Second, he studies how recent economic, political, and technological changes have renewed and complicated efforts to regulate the modern practice of journalism through the main sources of American law. To those ends, Dr. Peters has published articles in a variety of leading journals, including the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Harvard Law and Policy Review, and Federal Communications Law Journal. He is also a coauthor of The Law of Public Communication, a textbook used at more than 100 colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.

In addition, Dr. Peters does international and comparative research in communication law and policy. He is the author of encyclopedia articles about global free expression and European press regulation, and he recently completed a research project on press rights at peaceful assemblies in Europe, working as a consultant to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (in Vienna) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (in Warsaw). Ultimately, he helped to develop guidelines clarifying such rights that were later adopted by the Council of Europe. Dr. Peters is currently working on a research project to help inform the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s drafting of an authoritative interpretation of a treaty provision guaranteeing the right of peaceful assembly. It is a multi-stakeholder effort, and he has been exploring whether the provision should be read to protect virtual assemblies and, if so, how to recognize the rights of journalists in that context.

TEACHING SPECIALTIES

The Department of Journalism recognized Dr. Peters in 2019 as its “Teacher of the Year,” and he is the former Teaching Chair of the Law and Policy Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. As an Online Learning Fellow in the 2017-2018 academic year, he developed Grady College’s core law course to be taught online for the first time, and since then he has been active in UGA’s study-abroad program, teaching in Prague in the summer. Dr. Peters mostly teaches communication law and policy, in Grady and the School of Law, but he has also taught undergraduate courses in information gathering, feature writing, and mass media ethics, as well as graduate seminars in social media policy and in contemporary press freedom. He regularly mentors doctoral and master’s students.

EXPERIENCE

Dr. Peters is the press freedom correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review, and elsewhere he has written about legal issues for Esquire, The Atlantic, Slate, Wired, and CNN. He has blogged about the First Amendment for the Harvard Law Review and Harvard Law and Policy Review, and he has written about the NHL for Sports Illustrated. He is a frequent commentator on media law matters for The Washington Post, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, NPR, CBS News, PBS, and Politico, among others. In addition, his work has been noted by John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” and Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.”

Dr. Peters is the lead author of two amicus briefs in First Amendment cases, and he has contributed to others. He is also a volunteer First Amendment lawyer for the Student Press Law Center and ACLU, and he has conducted media law seminars for dozens of news organizations, most recently the radio program “This American Life” and the podcast “Serial.” Dr. Peters is the author, too, of a special report commissioned by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Examining at a granular level the email hacks and leaks of the 2016 presidential election, it discussed the legal and ethical propriety of reporting on the emails as stolen materials.

Dr. Peters participates regularly in the U.S. Department of State’s Edward R. Murrow Program, in which he has trained journalists from over 20 countries in press-freedom principles. And he is active in a number of nonprofits, serving as the First Amendment Chair of the Civil Rights Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association, as a member of the Freedom of Information Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, and as the Professional Freedom and Responsibility Chair of the Law and Policy Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Jonathan Peters, assistant professor, Journalism
In the News

Grady College Conversations podcast: Jonathan Peters

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New faculty join Grady College

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The newspaper ad that changed everything, via CNN

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When a journalist is arrested covering a protest, what should the news outlet do? ​ via Columbia Journalism Review​

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Trump wants to ​"​ look into ​"​ free press, via Politico

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Q: Could U.S. prosecute reporters for classified scoops? A: Maybe, via NPR

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The ethics of leaks, via Nieman Reports

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