Award-winning Assistant Professor Embraces the Challenge of Helping Students Grasp Importance of Media Law 

Helping students understand the importance of grasping media law and its impact on their education and career path can be a tricky task sometimes for a professor.  

Kyla Garrett Wagner embraces that challenge — so much so that the assistant professor of communications said it’s one her favorite parts of teaching the course at Newhouse. 

Kyla Garrett Wagner
Kyla Garrett Wagner

“It takes a lot of song and dance to say, ‘Here’s why the law matters,’” Garrett Wagner said. “But then when they start to see it, when it starts to really click, they say, ‘Oh, I know why I’m here. This could be helpful.’” 

Garrett Wagner’s dedication and enthusiasm in the classroom were recognized in April when she was named a 2023 recipient of the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Teaching Recognition Award for Early Performance, which is presented to faculty who have completed two years of teaching at Syracuse University.  

“I think at the core of everything I’m trying to do, I want people to have a positive experience with their education, so they are hopefully invigorated and charged to keep learning and to keep consuming and to keep elevating in that space,” she said. 

Garrett Wagner, who started at the Newhouse School in 2019, is an interdisciplinary legal and communications scholar studying the relationship between public health and the First Amendment. She teaches media law to both undergraduate and graduate students at Newhouse. 

The class is important for Newhouse students because it’s where they learn their First Amendment rights in the world of communications. Garrett Wagner engages her students with real-world examples that they might know from the news or experience in their everyday lives.  

“So not only is the course accessible and tangible and [my students] can actually execute the work, but then they can see the value of it and the applicability in their real-world jobs when they graduate,” she said.  

Once students see why learning about media law and their First Amendment rights is essential, the class becomes more enjoyable and interesting.  

“When you educate people, it allows them to see the world differently,” Garrett Wagner said, “and it gives them something else, a new perspective, a new way to see things.”

Samantha Rodino is a sophomore in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.

This is the second in a series of three stories about Newhouse faculty honored by Syracuse University in 2023 for teaching excellence.