A Sourcebook of Canadian Media Law

Robert Martin

G. Stuart Adam

In their preface to A Sourcebook of Canadian Media Law, Professors Martin & Adam state the objective of this book.

Our primary aim is to equip journalists with the technical knowledge to recognize and interpret the laws that affect their work.... We have sought to use the necessity that journalism students master specific legal rules as an opportunity to explore law as an organized system of judgment in intellectual discrimination.

The book, on the whole, meets this objective. This work is identified as a sourcebook rather than a textbook which is associated with the description, analysis and evaluation of a particular subject matter, or a casebook which usually consists of succinctly edited cases, statutory material, excerpts from law review articles and questions aimed at encouraging students to analyze legal problems.

A sourcebook suggests a somewhat different purpose: that is, to provide a compendium of the statutes, regulations, cases, etc., which constitute media law. As a sourcebook this volume works very well. For example, someone wanting to know details about the law of contempt would be able to find not only court rules governing the issue, but also cases which illustrate the manner in which courts have interpreted the rules with respect to particular fact situations. It also includes law review articles, law reform commission reports, and brief introductions to topics to provide some commentary.

Another purpose of this book is to acquaint undergraduate journalism students with media law. The book can be used successfully in this context but it must be done cautiously. Students frequently have very vague ideas about such things as the role of courts in interpreting statutes, the role of stare decisis in the evolution of the common law, and the relationship of a constitution, whether in deciding questions of jurisdiction or the scopes of protection of individual rights, to statutory and common law. It may be necessary, therefore, to introduce students to descriptive material in order to provide an understandable context for the study of media law. Furthermore, students who are new to the legal process generally have great difficulty extracting general principles and theory from the reading of cases. Careful guidance on the part of the instructor is, therefore, necessary. The book should be read in conjunction with basic introductory material about the processes of law.

For the most part, the material in the sourcebook is quite comprehensive. Many of the cases are reported in their entirety, and are accompanied by the statutory material which they interpret. The material can be successfully utilized to provide students with the elements of legal decision-making. Only the first chapter, which deals with the constitutional protection of freedom of expression, is problematic. On the one hand, the authors provide an excellent historical framework to the issue by excerpting cases decided under the BNA Act and the Bill of Rights which stand in sharp juxtaposition to the Charter cases which are reproduced. On the other hand, the Charter cases are so severely edited that the facts are omitted, and the courts' reasoning in interpreting relevant statutory provisions is provided in brief excerpts; both are insufficient to provide either context or comprehension of the effects of the decision.

The Sourcebook of Canadian Media Law makes a valuable contribution to the works available on the subject. By careful editing, it creates a comprehensive body of materials and a systematic approach to the multi-faceted topics which make up media law.



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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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