First co-sponsored symposium covering First Amendment in digital age to be held in Washington

The event will be livestreamed on MU’s School of Law and School of Journalism Facebook pages in addition to a live screening in the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.
courtesy of the MU School of Law courtesy of the MU School of Law

The first co-sponsored symposium presented by MU’s School of Journalism and School of Law will foster discussions on the First Amendment in the digital age.

The Missouri-Hurley and Price Sloan Symposium entitled “Truth, Trust and the First Amendment in the Digital Age” will take place on April 6 in Washington, D.C. MU’s School of Journalism, School of Law and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute are co-hosting the symposium, in conjunction with the National Press Club and the Price A. Sloan Fund for Media, Ethics and Law at the School of Law.

Previously, the Missouri-Hurley and Price Sloan symposiums were held separately. This year, MU’s School of Law and School of Journalism decided to combine their resources and efforts to create one symposium with multiple viewpoints.

Lyrissa Lidsky, dean of MU’s School of Law, said bringing the two schools together for a symposium in Washington, D.C. allows multiple viewpoints to be heard on a variety of complex issues involving traditional media, social media and First Amendment law.

“[The symposium] entails pooling our resources to bring high level journalists and lawyers together,” Lidsky said. “The beauty of an interdisciplinary approach is to get different perspectives on the most pressing constitutional issues of the day.”

The event will include a panel discussion with legal scholars and media attorneys, a panel discussion with journalists from various networks and backgrounds and a keynote address by Floyd Abrams, a senior counsel for Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.

Lidsky will moderate a panel of media attorneys and legal scholars, including Mary-Rose Papandrea, Judge John J. Parker distinguished professor of law at the University of North Carolina School of Law; Chris Buskirk, publisher and editor of the American Greatness publication; and Kurt Wimmer, U.S. chair of data privacy and cybersecurity at Covington & Burling LLP.

Barbara Cochran is the Curtis B. Hurley chair in public affairs reporting and the Washington program director for the School of Journalism. Cochran has produced and moderated the Hurley Symposium for seven years and worked with Lidsky to co-sponsor the joint symposium this year. She will lead a discussion with other journalists, including Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for The New York Times; Dan Balz, chief correspondent at The Washington Post and Brian Stelter host of “Reliable Sources” on CNN.

Both panels will discuss topics such as fake news and how to combat it, journalist credibility and the effects of social media on journalism and media law.

Lidsky said the guests on both panels will provide a “lively and interactive discussion from a variety of different perspectives.” She said the culmination of elite legal and media advocates will create discussion on salient topics in today’s society.

“I'm really thrilled to bring together such great people,” Lidsky said. “In this day and age, it's still important to get people into the same room so that they can have meaningful discussion about important topics. I'm proud we’re able to do that.”

The symposium will conclude with a keynote address by Abrams. He specializes in First Amendment and media litigation, and was co-counsel for The New York Times in the lawsuit regarding the Pentagon Papers.

The editorial board of the Missouri Law Review, composed of School of Law students, will attend the symposium and tour the Supreme Court. Additionally, undergraduate students in School of Journalism’s assistant professor Brett Johnson’s Honor Tutorial in Communication Law class will attend the event in Washington, D.C. as well.

Cochran said that students who attend the symposium may learn what a job working in Washington, D.C. may entail and how journalists are currently doing their jobs.

“This [symposium] will give students insight into what it's like to be a journalist covering this kind of situation and how people keep a sense of what their purpose is and keep their ethics and standards about them,” Cochran said.

In addition to educating future journalists, Cochran said her goal for the symposium is for the attendees to learn something new and hopefully have a greater understanding of free speech in America.

“I want the audience to come away feeling that they learned something and that they heard some things that they haven't heard before that gave them food for thought,” Cochran said. “I hope that it reinforces the idea of how important journalism is as a pillar of our democracy.”

The First Amendment symposium will be livestreamed on the School of Journalism’s Facebook page and shared with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Facebook page, the School of Law’s Facebook page and livestreamed in the Palmer Room in the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. The legal panel discussion will begin at 8:15 a.m on April 6.

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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