Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart has been touted as the U.S. Supreme Court's most important decision in the free press/fair trial controversy and exemplifies the sharp split between these two opposing legal doctrines. Although previous studies have examined the impact of the decision, no studies exist which seek to understand this free press/fair trial conflict and how the participants involved in the case defined the situation in which they found themselves. Through an analysis of the local, regional, and national print coverage of the Erwin Charles Simants' murder investigation and subsequent free press/fair trial case that ensued as well as interviews from key participants, this paper will conclude whether the restrictive order placed on the press was justified and whether, once adopted, it was effective at stopping the specific information deemed prejudicial by the Nebraska courts.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts. Copyright Nancy Whitmore April, 1995

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