Shepard, Jason

Department Chair


Jason Shepard

Department:  Communications

Personal Website:

Phone: (657) 278-5301


Office: CP 400

Office Hours: View HerePDF File Opens in new window

Degree and University:  Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Degree Area: Mass Communication, Minor in Law

Teaching Areas: media law, journalism, multimedia news production, journalism innovations, media history 

Research Areas:  digital media ethics and law, journalist’s privilege law, campaign finance law, anonymity and privacy rights, the press and national security, and First Amendment history

Dr. Jason M. Shepard is a media law scholar, professor and chair of the Department of Communications at California State University, Fullerton, one of the largest mass communications programs in the United States. His research examines the role of the First Amendment in American democracy, journalism and culture, and he teaches courses in journalism and media law, history and ethics. Before academia, Shepard worked as an award-winning journalist in Wisconsin and Teach For America corps member in New York City.


Shepard’s record of academic scholarship includes 90 publications and presentations. He is co-author of   Major Principles of Media Law, now in its 29th edition. He writes "Online Legalities," a regular column in   California Publisher. His first book, Privileging the Press: Confidential Sources, Journalism Ethics and the First Amendment, explored the history and ethics of journalists' protection of confidential sources. In Ethical Issues in Communication Professions: New Agendas in Communications, published by Routledge, Shepard proposed a new agenda for scholars of press freedom and responsibility in the digital era. In   Ethics in a Digital Age, published by Peter Lang, Shepard critiqued the emerging uses of journalism ethical principles in First Amendment analysis. Most recently, Shepard has published "Culture Wars on Campus: Academic Freedom, the First Amendment and Partisan Outrage in Polarized Times"  in San Diego Law Review and "The First Amendment and Mandatory Condom Laws: Rethinking the 'Porn Exception' in Strict Scrutiny, Content Neutrality and Secondary Effects Analysis" in Nevada Law Journal. Shepard has also published research in Yale Journal of Law and Technology,   Communication Law and Policy,   Journal of Media Law & Ethics , Nexus Journal of Law and Policy, and Drake Law Review. Shepard’s research has been cited widely, including by a federal appellate court and in the New York Times. He has served as an expert witness in campaign finance cases defending disclosure and disclaimer laws for electioneering communications in Maine and Colorado, and he was cross examined by former Solicitor General Ted Olson in the 2014 case   Citizens United v. Gessler. He won a university award for "research of the highest quality."


At Cal State Fullerton, Shepard primarily teaches Communications Law. He has also taught courses in journalism, multimedia news production, journalism innovations and media history. He has also served as adviser of the   Daily Titan student newspaper and website, during which his students won dozens of state and national journalism awards. As department chair, Shepard led the department's successful reaccreditation from the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), earning him Cal State Fullerton's University Leadership Award in 2015. In 2016, Shepard was recognized with the Academic Senate Faculty Leadership in Collegial Governance Award. In 2017, he was part of a team that won the University's Teamwork and Collaboration Award for a partnership with Univision and the Latino Communications Initiative.


Shepard has a Ph.D. in mass communications, with a Ph.D. minor in law, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a doctoral student, Shepard taught in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Department of Political Science and led a state-wide county-by-county audit of government compliance with open meetings and records laws. Shepard has two master’s degrees, in education (Pace University) and in journalism and mass communication (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Before graduate school, Shepard taught seventh and eighth grade English and U.S. history in the South Bronx of New York City, beginning as a corps member of Teach For America.


Shepard spent a decade as a journalist covering crime, courts, politics, education and the media, winning awards for investigative reporting, explanatory reporting, legal reporting, spot news reporting and feature reporting. Shepard wrote for   Isthmus newspaper, an award-winning alternative weekly, from 2004-2009, and   The Capital Times, the feistier of two local dailies, from 1996 to 2001. As an undergraduate at UW-Madison, Shepard worked as a reporter and editor for   The Badger Herald. He began his journalism career at age 16 as the school board reporter for the two local newspapers in his hometown of Wisconsin Dells, Wis. (population 2,808), the   Wisconsin Dells Events   and the   Dells/Delton Daily.


Select Publications




Major Principles of Media Law, Boston, MA: Cengage Learning (2019).


Privileging the Press: Confidential Sources, Journalism Ethics and the First Amendment, New York: NY: LFB Scholarly Publishers (2013).


Book Chapters


The Emerging Uses of Ethics in Journalist’s Privilege Law, in Bastiaan Vanacker (editor), Ethics for a Digital Age, New York, NY: Peter Lang (2015).


Freedom of the Press and Journalism Ethics in the Internet Era, in Minette E. Drumright (editor), New Agendas in Communication: Ethics in Communications Professions, New York, NY: Routledge (2013).


Journal Articles


The First Amendment and Mandatory Condom Laws: Rethinking the “Porn Exception” in Strict Scrutiny, Content Neutrality and Secondary Effects Analysis, Nevada Law Journal, Vol. 19 (2019).

Culture Wars on Campus: Academic Freedom, the First Amendment and Partisan Outrage in Polarized Times,San Diego Law Review,55: 87-158 (2018).

Anonymity, Disclosure and First Amendment Balancing in the Internet Era: Developments in Libel, Copyright and Election Speech, Yale Journal of Law and Technology, 15: 92-138 (2012).

Campaigning as the Press: Citizens United and the Problems of Press Exemption in Law, Nexus: Chapman’s Journal of Law and Policy, 16: 137-152 (2011).

Speaking From the Bench, Judicial Campaigns, Judges’ Speech and the First Amendment, Drake Law Review, 58(3): 709-736 (2010).

Bloggers After the Shield: Defining Journalism in Privilege Law, Journal of Media Law & Ethics, 1(3/4): 186-216 (2009).

After the First Amendment Fails: The Newsmen’s Privilege Hearings of the 1970s, Communication Law and Policy, 14(3): 373-410 (2009).