journalism, international human rights law


Contemporary attacks of various types have prompted calls for stronger public support and legal protections for journalism. Around the world, journalism faces not only government regulation that affects editorial content but also economic and corporate pressures as well as lack of public understanding of its societal functions. In the United States, courts and even journalism organizations have been reluctant to define journalism or single it out for special protection. But international human rights law presents a possible solution. This article discusses the international human rights law provisions that protect individuals engaged in journalism. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has laid groundwork to define and protect journalism’s unique functions within the larger international law framework for freedom of expression. This groundwork includes the possibility for individual journalism rights to be distinguished from institutional media or press rights. The article contends that such a distinction has become increasingly important. The international law proportionality test could resolve concerns about defining journalism as a stand-alone fundamental right.

Original Publication Citation

Edward L. Carter & Rosalie Westenskow (2020) Freedom of Journalism in International Human Rights Law, Communication Law and Policy, 25:2, 113-143, DOI: 10.1080/10811680.2020.1735188

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Communication Law & Policy




Fine Arts and Communications



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

Included in

Communication Commons