Sharon D. Docter

Sharon D. Docter, Ph.D.

(805) 493-3850
Swenson 206


An attorney with a doctorate in communication theory and research, Dr. Docter brings a unique dimension to the Communication Department. Her research examines the way in which social factors influence the design of new communication technology and policy governing its use.  She also writes about the way in which the regulation of the Internet impacts freedom of expression.  Dr. Docter has received the President's Award for Teaching Excellence.  She also has twice been elected by the senior class as Professor of the Year, in 1999 and again in 2010.  Dr. Docter teaches courses in communication theories, freedom of expression and legal issues and new media. 


Ph.D., Communication Theory and Research, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California.

J.D., UCLA School of Law.

M.Ed., UCLA School of Education.

B.A., English, UCLA.

Member, State Bar of California.

Member, Phi Beta Kappa.



Hettinga, K., Medders, R. & Docter, S. (forthcoming).  Student media coverage of censorship and press freedom.  College Media Review.

Docter, S. (2021).  Libel laws and the non-institutional press.  First Amendment Studies, 55(2), 175-193,

Docter, S. (2010).  Blogging and journalism:  Extending shield law protection to new media forms.  Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 54, 588-602.

Docter, S. (2005).  The regulation of indecency in electronic communications Revisited:  The CDA, COPA and CIPA.  In S.J. Drucker and G. Gumpert (Eds.) Real Law @ Virtual Space (2nd ed).  Cresskill, NJ:  Hampton Press, Inc.

Metzger, M. and Docter, S.  (2003).  Public opinion and policy initiatives for online privacy protection. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media47, 350-374.

Docter, S., Dutton, W.H. and Elberse, A. (1999).  An American Democracy Network:Factors Shaping the Future of On-line Political Campaigns. Parliamentary Affairs52, 535-552. 

Docter, S. & Dutton, W.H. (1999).  The Social Shaping of Digital Democracy:  The Democracy Network.  In B.D. Loader and B. Hague (Eds.) Digital Democracy. London:  Routledge.

 Docter, S. (1999).  The Regulation of Indecency in Electronic Communications.  In S.J. Drucker and G. Gumpert (Eds.) Real Law @ Virtual Space.  Cresskill, NJ:  Hampton Press, Inc.

 Docter, S. & Dutton, W.H. (1998).  The First Amendment On-Line:  Santa Monica’s Public Electronic Network.  In R. Tsagarousianou, D. Tambini and C. Bryan (Eds.) Cyberdemocracy:  Technology, Cities and Civic Networks. London: Routledge.

 Katz, E., Docter, S., Gusek, J., Metzger, M., O’Connell, J. and Stokes, J. (1998).  Press-conversation-opinion-action:  Gabriel’s Tarde’s public sphere. In J. Lautman and B. Lecuyer (Eds.) Paul Lazarsfeld.  Paris:  L’Harmattan.

 Docter, S. (1992).  An alternative justification for regulating broadcast indecency. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 36, 245-247.


Docter, S. (2016).  Why bloggers and journalists should be treated the same under the libel laws.  Paper presented at the National Communication Association for presentation at the 102nd Annual Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 10-13, 2016.  Recipient of the Robert M. O’Neil Award for Top Paper, Freedom of Expression Division.

 Docter, S. (2010).  The Game of Telephone as a Way to Understand Schematic Processing.  Paper presented at the National Communication Association 96th Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, November 14-17, 2010.

Docter, S. (2009).  Blogging and Journalism:  Extending Shield Law Protection to New Media Forms.  Paper presented at the National Communication Association 95th Annual Convention, Chicago, Illinois, November 12-15, 2009.  Top two paper. Paper selected for the Top Scholarship Panel, Freedom of Expression Division.

Docter, S., Metzger, M. & Yao, M.  (2002).  Public Opinion and Internet Privacy.  Paper  presented at the National Communication  Association Annual Convention, New Orleans, LA, November 23, 2002.

Docter, S. (1996).   The Regulation of Indecency in Electronic Communications.  Paper presented at the Speech Communication Association Annual Convention, San Diego, California, November 22-26, 1996.  Recipient of the Robert M. O’Neil Award for top paper, Commission on Freedom of Expression.

Katz, E., with Docter, S., Gusek, J., Metzger, M., O'Connell, J., and Stokes, J. (1994).  Press-Conversation-Opinion-Action:  Gabriel Tarde's Public Sphere.  Paper prepared for presentation at the 20th anniversary meeting of the Center for Surveys, Methods and Analysis (ZUMA), Mannheim, Germany, 6 October 1994, and at the International Colloquium in Honor of Paul Lazarsfeld, Paris, 14-16 December 1994.

Docter, S. (1994).  A critique of the spiral of silence.  Paper presented at the Speech Communication Association Annual  Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 19-22, 1994.

Docter, S. (1994).  The regulation of public electronic networks.  Paper presented at the Programme on Information and Communication Technologies International Doctoral Conference, London, England, March 28-30, 1994.

Docter, S. (1993).  The regulation of videotex indecency.  Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Washington, D.C., May 27-31, 1993.

Ball-Rokeach, S., Collins-Jarvis, L., Docter, S., Metzger, M. and Pagliassotti, D. (1993).  The role of alternative media systems in the maintenance of subcultural identity and conflict in Central Europe.  Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Washington, D.C., May 27-31, 1993.

Docter, S. (1991).  Social learning theory and television violence:  Social scientific and legal perspectives.  Paper presented at the Annenberg School for Communication Western States Mini-Conference, Los Angeles, California, November, 1991.