Robert Drechsel holds the James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics and is director of the School’s Center for Journalism Ethics. He also holds an affiliated faculty appointment in the Law School.
Drechsel served as director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 1991-98 and then for a year as interim chair of what is now the Legal Studies major. His research and teaching focus primarily on media law, the relationship between media law and media ethics, and media coverage of the judiciary.
Drechsel holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Minnesota, where he also earned undergraduate and master’s degrees. He joined the Wisconsin faculty in 1983 after spending four years as an assistant professor at Colorado State University.
His scholarship has focused on tort and constitutional law affecting mass communication, and on various aspects of media coverage of courts. Most recently, the former has focused on the relationship between law, ethics and professionalism, the latter on local television and newspaper coverage of the justice system. Drechsel is the author of one book, News Making in the Trial Courts, and articles in a variety of legal and communication journals. His work on journalist-source interaction in trial courts has been cited by the United States Supreme Court.
Drechsel has served as head of the Law Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and received AEJMC’s Krieghbaum Under-40 Award for accomplishment in teaching, research and service. He is also a long-time member of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, a state-wide organization devoted to safeguarding citizens’ access to government proceedings and records.
Drechsel teaches courses including Journalism 559 (Law of Mass Communication); Journalism 675 (Topics in Government and Mass Media); and two graduate seminars in mass communication law and policy. He also teaches intermediate reporting. Before entering the academic world, he was a reporter and editor for a small daily newspaper in Minnesota, and a science and information writer in the Department of Information and Agricultural Journalism at the University of Minnesota-St. Paul.