Communication Studies


Reyes, Ian A

Advisor Department

Communication Studies




Media, First Amendment, Free Speech, Vietnam, Iraq, War

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.


Old Media vs. New Media: Characterizations of Free Speech During Times of War

Jamie Mercurio

Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ian Reyes, Communication Studies

If citizens want their voices to be heard, they must know how to make them be heard. This project will outline and discuss several situations throughout recent history in which citizens with significant statements to make managed to catch the eye of the mass media and practically become household names. Each of the cases plays upon American First Amendment rights against a backdrop of two noteworthy time periods in American history: the Vietnam War era (specifically the late 1960s) and the more current, post 9/11 age of American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The purpose of this work is to better understand effective grassroots political communication in a changing media environment. Beginning with a summary of the First Amendment to the Constitution in its original historical context, the project details the changes in mass communication and media technology from the spread of television culture in the 1960s to modern America’s internet culture, discussing censorship in each respective context.

The project begins with two First Amendment cases from the Vietnam War period, Tinker vs. Des Moines and United States vs. O’Brien, arguing that these cases demonstrate effective public protest during the older media age of the Vietnam War era. Then, the post 9/11 period is analyzed through Snyder vs. Phelps (of the Westboro Baptist Church), and the scandal surrounding Julian Assange and Wikileaks, representing effective protest speech in the new media age.