Law & the Media in Texas

Police News
The Criminal Process
The Civil Process
The Federal Process
Freedom of Information
Fair Trial Issues
Clarification, Explanation, Etc.


The first edition of Law and the Media in Texas was published in the spring of 1972. As with all other editions until now, it was titled Law and the Press in Texas. This began with the encouragement of John Murphy, then the executive director of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association.

When John Murphy retired, Lyndell Williams of the Texas Press Association became the sponsor of this project. After Lyndell retired, Mike Hodges took his place. I appreciate the encouragement and support of all of them.

This is the seventh edition, along with several reprintings along the way.

Of course, I couldn’t have done this alone. Everyone I have approached has been helpful. I am most grateful.

Several people deserve special recognition for their help: Tommy Miller has written a section for the last two editions. Ed Kelton designed all the books. Charles Davis contributed to this edition. Others who have provided invaluable advice through the years are Tony Pederson, John Cranfill, the late John Makeig, Dennis Neighbours, Wayne Meachum, Mary Flood and Phil Hardberger. Among the people who have been especially helpful in recent years are John Collins, Pete Slover and Chip Stewart – lawyers all. My special thanks to them for their guidance on the finer points of the law.

What has changed over these 30 years? Everything. The changes in libel law are just one example. Another big change is in the area of open records.

Perhaps the most helpful change is not in the law itself but in the access to it. The Internet happened suddenly, and people involved with the law responded immediately. Today you can find just about anything you are looking for on line. That’s a far cry from the way it used to be, especially for students and people in the news business.

In fact, I would encourage students and young journalists to explore the various sites. You’ll be surprised at what you will find.

-- David McHam © Copyright 2002 by David McHam All Rights Reserved

About the Author

David McHam is an instructional professor of journalism at the University of Houston. He is a graduate of Baylor University and of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. He has also taught at Baylor (1961 to 1974), Southern Methodist University (1974 to 1997) and the University of Texas at Arlington (1998 to 2001). In 1994 he was named the outstanding journalism teacher in the nation by the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2001 he was presented the President’s Award for outstanding teaching by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Sponsoring Agencies

Law and the Media in Texas is sponsored by the Texas Press Association, the Texas Association of Broadcasters and the Texas Daily Newspaper Association:

  • Texas Press Association, 718 West Fifth Street, Suite 100, Austin, TX 78701, telephone 512 477-6755 or fax, 512 477-6759
  • Texas Association of Broadcasters, 502 East 11th Street, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78701, telephone 512 322 9944 or fax, 512 322-0522
  • Texas Daily Newspaper Association, 305 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, telephone 512 477-6755 or fax, 512 477-6759