Jack M. Balkin
- Yale University
- New Haven, CT
- Personal Website
Jack Balkin’s blogs and widely read opinion pieces explore the frontiers of First Amendment and constitutional law.
Jack M. Balkin is a member of the Law School faculty and an expert in constitutional law, the First Amendment, telecommunications and cyberspace. His blog, Balkinization, is located at http://balkin.blogspot.com/ and his associated website appears at http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/jbalkin/.
The Knight Professor would focus on the constitutional study of communication and would incorporate traditional First Amendment scholarship. It also would address emerging issues presented by the new communications technology. The Knight Professorship holder would assume not only a prominent position in the law school but also throughout the university, serving as an important link to other university schools and departments. The Knight Professor would be called upon to participate in a variety of national symposia and conferences and thereby have a strong impact on public discourse of important constitutional issues. The Knight Professor would be a valued colleague and intellectual mentor to the journalism fellows who spend an intensive academic year at the law school. The presence of the Knight Professor would enrich the program and the quality of the fellows’ experience.
Professor Jack Balkin’s teaching and research continues to focus on the rights defined in the First Amendment as it relates to traditional forms of communication, as well as to new communications technology. This year, Professor Balkin taught the following courses: Constitutional Law, the Media Freedom and Information
Professor Balkin is an expert on constitutional law, media law and Internet law issues. The Yale Information Society Project, which he founded and directs, has a global reputation for excellence. Professor Balkin’s latest book, Constitutional Redemption: Political Faith in an Unjust World (Harvard University Press, 2011) was published this year. This year Professor Balkin gave several public lectures and presentations; published articles, commentaries, and op-eds; and participated in events at both the Law School and in the public sphere. He gave presentations and lectures at the American Constitution Society Annual Conference, The American Association of Law Schools Annual Conference, The Access to Knowledge Global Academy, the University of Maryland, Pepperdine University, The University of Texas, The University of Illinois, The University of Pennsylvania, Duke Law School, and the University of Chicago. In April the University of Illinois organized a conference on his forthcoming book, Living Originalism, while in October the University of Texas organized a conference on his book, Constitutional Redemption. He published op-eds with the New York Times and CNN.com and gave interviews on the debt-ceiling crisis with CNN and MSNBC and interviews on the constitutional challenges to health care legislation to a variety of different news organizations.
Professor Balkin oversees and provides guidance to the Knight Law and Journalism Program at Yale Law School and is the founder and director of the Information Society Project, an intellectual center addressing the implications of the internet and new information technologies on law and society. The Knight Law and Media Program has hosted many events related to media and communications law, including a Spring 2011 conference entitled “From Mad Men to Mad Bots: Advertising in the Digital Age,” which considered the effects of digital advertising on journalism, intellectual property, and communications law. More information is available at http://www.law.yale.edu/intellectuallife/ISPconferences.html.
Question and Answer with Knight Chair
What disturbs you most about journalism today? What excites you most?
Professor Balkin believes the deteriorating economic condition of media organizations has made it more difficult for them to obtain effective legal representation. The Media Freedom and Information Access Practicum at Yale Law School is attempting to meet this need. Information about the Media Freedom and Information Access Practicum can be found at: http://www.law.yale.edu/news/11200.htm.
Should universities expand their role as community content providers? How?
Professor Balkin points out universities have been looking to expand their role as community content providers since the Middle Ages. “The central issue, then, as now, is the relevant community,” he said. “The relevant community in the middle ages was shaped by the understandings and the demands of church and crown. The twentieth century research university has been focused primarily on the production of learning materials for their own students and scholarly research for an imagined scholarly community without geographical boundaries; community colleges and (some) state universities have focused on serving local geographical areas. The university's reach and influence into the larger world was always seen as one aspect of its mission, but normally was derived from and extended from its core audience and core mission.”
Today, he explains, digital platforms allow the distribution of almost any type of material produced by universities in the form of video, online learning materials, scholarly publications, popular books, opinion pieces, and interviews with scholars. But different kinds of materials are salient and relevant to different communities. Without a specification of the relevant community, one cannot specify the proper content or the proper approach. An approach that seeks to expand content for an undifferentiated public is unlikely to succeed: the materials will be available but will not be used (or used inadequately); or important demands will simply remain unmet.
The current approach of many research universities is to make available materials (or slight variations thereof) that are already directed toward traditional audiences: an imagined scholarly community or toward the university's students. Conversely, academics often write books, op-eds (or increasingly, participate in video programming) for a general public that can be grist for the mill of the scholarly community. Universities may decide to expand their student base and some are already engaged in ambitious plans for expansion; if so, they will have to come up with new forms of teaching materials because their target audience has changed.
Media innovation: Does teaching at your school include teaching through mobile devices? How integrated are social media and emerging technologies in your teaching?
Yale Law School seeks to incorporate ways of incorporating mobile devices, emerging technologies, and social media into its teaching as much as possible. “We feature a Yale Law School ‘inside’ site that is available to students and faculty members to post syllabi, course materials, required readings, and select information about conferences and other events. In addition, the Information Society Project uses Twitter and Facebook communicate with students and the greater public about its events and to promote discourse on specific topics relating to law, media, access to knowledge issues, digital education, and intellectual property and communications law. Many of Yale Law School’s conferences and lectures are recorded and posted electronically on our website so that a wide audience can access and learn from these events.”