West receives Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression


UGA law professor Sonja West wins prestigious Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression from the National Communication Association

University of Georgia School of Law Professor Sonja R. West has received the National Communication Association’s 2016 Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression.

The award is given annually to an NCA member who has authored outstanding published research on freedom of expression over the prior three years. West was recognized for her article “Press Exceptionalism” published in 127 Harvard Law Review 2434 (2014).

“The communication discipline has a long tradition of exceptional scholarship,” NCA Interim Executive Director Trevor Parry-Giles said. “We’re proud to recognize Sonja West’s contributions with this well-deserved award.”

Summarizing West's award-winning work, the NCA stated: "Freedom of expression, even within the confines of constitutional construction, includes more than freedom of speech; it also includes freedom of the press. West’s important article, 'Press Exceptionalism,' makes the case for recognition of the special needs (and hence special exceptions) of the press in American democracy. West argues that 'those who fulfill the unique constitutional functions of the press' (e.g., 'gathering newsworthy information, disseminating it to the public, and serving as a check on the government and powerful people') should be recognized in constitutional interpretation as having special needs that flow from these unique functions. She writes, 'We must recognize these [press] speakers in order to consider and potentially protect their specific needs. A continuing refusal to do so, moreover, comes with risks. These risks include not only a failure to fulfill the promises of the First Amendment, but also widespread societal costs arising out of reduced information flow and weakened government scrutiny.' Arguing for a four-prong test of functionality to differentiate 'press' from 'non-press,' West points a way toward revitalization of the 'Press Clause' of the First Amendment that could maximize the press’s freedom of expression by better assuring its ability to fulfill its unique functions."

West will receive her award during the NCA’s 102st Annual Convention to be held November 10-13 in Philadelphia.

The NCA is the largest communication association in the United States. It serves scholars, teachers and practitioners who are members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching.

For more information about the NCA’s awards program, visit http://www.natcom.org/awards/.

The National Communication Association The National Communication Association (NCA) advances communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific and aesthetic inquiry. The NCA serves the scholars, teachers and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, the NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems.

UGA School of Law Consistently regarded as one of the nation’s top public law schools, Georgia Law was established in 1859. Its accomplished faculty includes authors of some of the country’s leading legal scholarship. The school offers three degrees—the Juris Doctor, the Master of Laws and the Master in the Study of Law—and is home to the Dean Rusk International Law Center. Georgia Law is proud of its long tradition of providing first-rate legal training for future leaders who will serve state and nation in both the public and private sectors. For more information, see www.law.uga.edu.