First Amendment & protests: What matters the most?

As journalists and citizens across the country re-examine the First Amendment and Freedom of Information during Sunshine Week, March 13 to 19, the University of Missouri School of Journalism will host several public discussions among professionals, academics, citizens and students. These explorations of fundamental rights, if sometimes in conflict, could not come at a more opportune time in American society. 

On March 14 and 15 the Missouri School of Journalism and the Lee Hills Chair in Free-Press Studies, along with Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs, will conduct a number of events focused on freedom of information.

As the public, policy makers, academics and government officials discuss the ineffectiveness of our government at all levels and particularly at the federal level, the role of the media and the issue of transparency has become a major part of the debate. Many believe there is a real threat to journalism, the First Amendment and the public's right to know what its government is doing. Others feel that transparency has gotten in the way of good governance. 

Chuck Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, and Professor Bruce Cain of Stanford University, a distinguished political scientist who focuses on government, politics and the media's coverage of politics, will share their views, experiences and insights, culminating in a Tuesday debate between them: “Is our Government too Open?”

Both have written op-eds that will be published on websites and in newspapers around the country during the week of March 14.  They help frame the discussion. Read the op-eds here.

Details of a Monday noon discussion and a Tuesday master class, both free and open to the public, are at the end of this piece.

Two days later, on March 17 in Washington, D.C., the 2016 Curtis B. Hurley Symposium, a program of the Missouri School of Journalism, will focus on what happens when a news story about racial discord, university leadership and academic freedom becomes an international sensation on social media and attracts dozens of news organizations to Missouri.

“Lessons from Missouri: Diversity, Inclusion and the First Amendment” will explore what faculty and students at the world’s first journalism school learned in the wake of campus protests last fall that led to the resignations of the university president and chancellor. The protests highlighted issues of diversity and inclusion and also the importance of the First Amendment’s freedoms of speech, press, assembly and petition.

Join University of Missouri students, faculty and alumni, as well as outside experts on the First Amendment, diversity and inclusion, who will put the fall events in perspective. They will discuss the climate for diversity on campus and describe how the protests and university reaction became a living lesson in how to cover a major story close to home.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. EDT Thursday, March 17, at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, with a reception, followed by the program at 7 p.m. Missouri School of Journalism Dean David Kurpius will open the program and Barbara Cochran, the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism, will moderate the discussion.

Guest speakers include Jeffrey Herbst, president of the Newseum; Bryan Monroe, Verizon Chair at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication; and Adora Jenkins, a Missouri School of Journalism alumna and senior vice president of external affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council. Speakers from the Missouri School of Journalism include Earnest Perry, associate professor; Tim Tai, student and photographer; Stacey Woelfel, director of the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism; and Morgan Young, student and reporter for KOMU-TV.

Schedule of events in Columbia, Missouri (all times CDT)

All sessions will be held in the Fred W. Smith Forum (Room 200), 2nd floor, Reynolds Journalism Institute, 401 S. Ninth St.

Monday, March 14: noon — Brown Bag: Freedom of Information: 50 Years Later

Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Center and Missouri School of Journalism alumna. Bring your own lunch.

Tuesday, March 15: 2 to 3 p.m. — Master Class

Chuck Lewis, Barbara Petersen and Alasdair Roberts, Ph.D., professor at the Truman School of Public Affairs and author of “Government Secrecy in the Information Age.”

Tuesday, March 15: 6:30 p.m. — Debate: Is our government too open?

Chuck Lewis and Bruce Cain, moderated by Barbara Petersen.

6:30 p.m. — Refreshments and opportunity to purchase books by Chuck Lewis, Bruce Cain.

7:00 p.m. — Debate.

8:30 p.m. — Conclusion and book signing.

Learn more about the debate here.

Join the conversation before, during and after the event using #opengovdebate on social media. Live outside the Columbia area? Watch the live stream on your computer, tablet or smartphone.


Is our government too open?

Amanda Gastler

Curtis B. Hurley Symposium

Barbara Cochran

About the University of Missouri School of Journalism

The Missouri School of Journalism, the world’s first, is an international leader in journalism education. Some of the best journalists in the world have learned their profession through the Missouri Method, which provides practical hands-on training in professional news outlets and strategic communication agencies. The School works with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute to create the future of journalism, and 21 institutes and centers are headquartered here. Students and faculty earned top awards and recognitions — more than 560 in the 2014-15 academic year — from international, national and other organizations.

About the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute engages media professionals, scholars and other citizens in programs aimed at strengthening journalism in the service of democracy. RJI generates and tests new techniques and new thinking that promise to improve journalism.

About the Harry S Truman School for Public Affairs

Established in May 2001, the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs advances the study and practice of governance in Missouri, the nation and the world.

About the Curtis B. Hurley Symposium

The Curtis B. Hurley Symposium is a program of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism dedicated to exploring issues affecting journalism about government, public policy and freedom of the press. The endowed chair and annual symposium in Washington, D.C., are named for the Arkansas editor who encouraged a young reporter named Ed McLaughlin to polish his skills at the Missouri School of Journalism. McLaughlin endowed the chair in the name of his mentor, Curtis B. Hurley.


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