Legal Analysis in Media Policy Research

  • Marko Milosavljević
  • Melita Poler


This chapter presents the methodological approach of legal analysis as applied to media policy research. After describing and defining the key concepts, the authors explain the individual steps of the research process: (1) formulating the problem; (2) gathering relevant (legal) materials; (3) analyzing cases, legal documents and the overall (legal) context; and (4) critically interpreting and evaluating findings. The legal analysis is illustrated through two case studies. The first is ‘New York Times Co. v. United States’ (the Pentagon Papers case), which asks whether prior restraint on publishing classified government documents leaked to the news media is justified; it concerns freedom of expression on one side and national security on the other. The second is Slovenia Broadband S.à r.l.’s takeover of Produkcija Plus d.o.o. in Slovenia and Nova TV d.d. in Croatia. It focuses on the legal issue of whether this merger endangers legally protected aspects of media plurality, and whether it takes market strength and concentration to a dangerous extent. Both case studies are presented systematically, according to the four steps of the research process. The methodological approach is (critically) examined by elaborating its strengths and limitations.


  1. Arbor, A. (1971). How does the law change? Research News, 21(9), 4–15.Google Scholar
  2. Aubert, V. (1963). Researches in the sociology of law. American Behavioral Scientist, 7(4), 16–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bollinger, L. C. (1991). Images of a free press. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bowen, G. A. (2009). Document analysis as a qualitative research method. Qualitative Research Journal, 9(2), 27–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burns, R. B. (2000). Introduction to research methods. London, England: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Cate, F. H. (2006). Method in our madness: Legal methodology in communications law research. In A. Reynolds & B. Barnett (Eds.), Communication and law: Multidisciplinary approaches to research (pp. 9–23). Mahwah, NJ: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Gillmor, D. M., & Dennis, E. E. (1981). Legal research in mass communication. In G. H. Stempel & B. H. Westley (Eds.), Research methods in mass communication (pp. 320–341). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  8. Hansen, A., Cottle, S., Negrine, R., & Newbold, C. (1998). Mass communication research methods. Washington Square, NY: New York University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Holsinger, R. L. (1987). Media law. New York, NY: Random House.Google Scholar
  10. ICA. Divisions: Communication law and policy. Retrieved June 28, 2018, from
  11. Knežević Bojović, A., Ćorić, V., & Glintić, M. (2016). Targeted legal research online: A case study. The International Scientific Journal of E-methodology, 3, 63–76.Google Scholar
  12. Middleton, K. R., & Chamberlin, B. F. (1995). Key cases in the law of public communication. White Plains, NY: Longman.Google Scholar
  13. Overbeck, W. (2003). Major principles of media law. Singapore: Thomson Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  14. Patton, M. C. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods. London, England: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Reinard, J. C., & Ortiz, S. M. (2005). Communication law and policy: The state of research and theory. Journal of Communication, 55(3), 594–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Reynolds, S. (2016). Comparative legal analysis: From the prevalent methodology to a necessary prerequisite. Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, 23(2), 366–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Siebert, F. S. (1952). Freedom of the press in England, 1476–1776. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  18. Siegel, P. (2002). Communication law in America. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  19. Siems, M. M., & Síthigh, D. M. (2012). Mapping legal research. Cambridge Law Journal, 71(3), 651–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Tichenor, P. J., & McLeod, D. M. (1989). The logic of social and behavioral science. In G. H. Stempel III & B. H. Westley (Eds.), Research methods in mass communication (pp. 10–29). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  21. Turner, S. (2017). The use of “macro” legal analysis in the understanding and development of global environmental governance. Transnational Environmental Law, 6(2), 237–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Whitley, B. E., & Kite, M. E. (2012). Principles of research in behavioral science. New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Further Reading

  1. McConville, M., & Chui, W. H. (2007). Research methods for law. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  2. McLeod, I. (2009). Principles of legislative and regulatory drafting. Oxford, England: Hart.Google Scholar
  3. Pasadeos, Y., Bunker, M. D., & Kim, K. S. (2006). Influences on the media law literature: A divergence of mass communication scholars and legal scholars? Communication Law and Policy, 11(2), 179–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Potter, W. J., Cooper, R., & Dupagne, M. (1993). The three paradigms of mass media research in mainstream communication journals. Communication Theory, 3(4), 317–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Samuel, G. (2008). Is law really a social science? A view from comparative law. Cambridge Law Journal, 67(2), 288–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Youm, K. H. (2006). Legal methods in the history of electronic media. In D. G. Godfrey (Ed.), Methods of historical analysis in electronic media (pp. 115–145). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marko Milosavljević
    • 1
  • Melita Poler
    • 1
  1. 1.Chair of Journalism, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

Personalised recommendations