M.A. (Mike) Kautsch

Professor Emeritus of Law
Primary office:
501 Green Hall


Mike Kautsch left his post as dean of the KU School of Journalism at the end of the 1996-1997 academic year to join the KU Law faculty and develop a program on Media, Law and Policy at the School of Law. Now called Media, Law and Technology, the program includes courses on media law, First Amendment advocacy, privacy and intellectual property.  Through the program, students also may earn a Certificate in Media, Law and Technology. Kautsch holds degrees in journalism and law from the University of Iowa, and he worked as a journalist for about 10 years before joining the KU School of Journalism in 1979. He has long worked with the media bar and engages in research and makes public presentations on the First Amendment and other topics related to media and the law. He is a contributor to a compendium on media access to courts published by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Virginia.  He testifies before Kansas legislative committees on media-related bills, participates annually in planning and presenting a national Media and the Law Seminar in Kansas City, Missouri, chairs the Media Bar Committee of the Kansas Bar Association (KBA) and serves on the legislative affairs committee of the Media, Law Resource Center in New York. His honors include a number of teaching awards and an Outstanding Service Award from the KBA (1997) in recognition of his contributions to media-bar relations. His other service activities in the state include a charter membership in the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government and six years as a gubernatorial appointee to the Kansas Humanities Council Board of Directors. He currently chairs a non-profit organization, the Kansas Institute for Government Transparency, which he formed with four KU Law alumni who are among his former students. Mike has been quoted by many major news outlets, and was inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2017. After 40 years of teaching at KU, he retired in 2019.

Courses Taught:
  • Digital Privacy Rights in an Open Society
  • Media and the First Amendment
  • Media Law Project (A Professional Writing Course)


J.D., B.A., Iowa, 1971, 1968.


Media Law, Torts, Copyright Law and Digital Works


Iowa 1971

Career History

Assistant Professor, Journalism, University of Kansas (1979-85); Research Fellow in Residence, Gannett Center (later Freedom Forum) for Media Studies, Columbia University, New York, N.Y. (1985-86); Associate Professor (1985-92), Professor (1992-97) and Dean (1987-97), Journalism, University of Kansas; summer Knight International Press Fellow, University of Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica (1996, supported by the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C.); Visiting Professor, Law, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Fall 2007); Professor, Law, University of Kansas (1997-present).


Media and the law, the First and Sixth Amendments, tort reform.


Kansas Bar Association; Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association; American Bar Association; American Intellectual Property Law Association; American Inns of Court.

Selected Publications

  • "Kansas Enacts Shield Law by Wide Margin," MediaLawLetter, Media Law Resource Center (April 2010, pp. 13-14)
  • "Press Freedom and Fair Trials in Kansas: How Media and the Courts Have Struggled to Resolve Competing Claims of Constitutional Rights," 57 University of Kansas Law Review 1075 (2009)
  • "Liability Risks Associated with Criminals' Publicity Demands," "That's My Picture! Don't Use It! Photos, Publicity Rights and the First Amendment" and "Scoping Out Change: The Future of Media and the Law," in Media, Privacy and Defamation Law Committee News, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, American Bar Association, Chicago, Illinois (Spring/Summer 2006, Winter 2007 and Spring 2007, respectively)
  • "Judges as Newsmakers," paper for a program titled "Courts and the Media 101," National Association of Women Judges, Las Vegas, Nevada (2006)
  • "Constitutionalizing Moral Conduct and Press Freedom: A Kansas Legacy," paper presentation, Southwest Popular Culture Association, Albuquerque, N.M. (2002)
  • "Free Press-Fair Trial: Is the Conflict Necessary?," presentations during a seminar series in four Kansas cities, sponsored by the state Supreme Court (1996)
  • "The Focus of Media Studies," a panel presentation during a symposium, "Media Studies at the Millennium," at the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center, Columbia University in New York, New York (1991)
  • "Kansas Legislators and the Kansas Capitol Press Corps: Good News and Bad," in "Politics and Government in Kansas, Selected Essays" Capitol Complex Center, Topeka, Kansas (1989) (originally a monograph used in a Kansas legislative development program).