FIRST AMENDMENT VIDEO PROJECT
This past year, the MLRC Institute launched its First Amendment Video Project. The Video Project aims to increase the public’s understanding and appreciation of the First Amendment. Students in a journalism class or those working for the school newspaper are likely to be the most interested group, although other students are welcome to join them. As contributors to the project, they will have a unique opportunity to have access to a prominent figure in the First Amendment field.
Working with a teacher or advisor, the students will choose one of the topics below, and we will put them in touch with a leading authority who has vast experience and first-hand knowledge in the area. The students will then conduct further research on the selected topic, draw up questions for the interview on the selected topic, and set up a time to meet with their subject. The Institute staff will answer questions about the topic or the interview subject, provide initial research guidance, and, if desired, review interview questions.
The students will then conduct the interview, which they will record on video. Afterward, they will edit the conversation into a final digital video product, which we hope to see within two months from the inception of the project. Once the video is complete, the MLRC Institute will post it to our Facebook page, from which others can view the students’ work. If you or the students wish to post the video on the school’s official website, you can do so pending our approval. Absent agreement, however, from MLRC Institute and the interviewee (which will have to be in written form), the students and school may not use the outtakes or the cut interview for any other purposes.
For more information about the First Amendment Video Project, please contact Dorianne Van Dyke at
LIST OF POTENTIAL VIDEO TOPICS
Prior restraint concerns attempts by the government, corporations or people to stop the distribution of material they finds objectionable, usually through an injunction against publication. In the most famous example within the U.S., the Nixon administration tried to stop major newspapers from printing parts of the Pentagon Papers, which contained confidential information about the government’s involvement in Vietnam.
Confidential sources are one of the most important resources for investigative reporting, yet parties to lawsuits may try to undercut anonymity through legal tactics. Many states have enacted a reporter’s privilege that protects reporters from having to name their sources in court, yet many situations still arise in which journalists must choose between revealing sources they promised to keep confidential and going to jail.
Censorship in schools takes many forms, as officials try to eliminate all sorts of expression they see as problematic. While it is well-established that public schools have the right to impose at least some restrictions on certain speech, there are many thorny questions about their ability to regulate student publications, clothing, social network use, and other forms of speech.
Net neutrality and internet regulation concern people’s access to online services. To what extent is everyone entitled to at least some internet access, may companies regulate which websites users have access to, and how much can companies discriminate between heavy and light users of its servers? Congress will likely be forced to address all of these questions in the near future.
Privacy, particularly on social networking sites, has been an increasing concern over the past few years. Websites such as Google and Facebook have access to a great deal of personal data for each of their users, and the extent to which they keep this information secret or decide to share it with advertisers may make a tremendous difference in the user experience and people’s ability to keep information about themselves out of the public realm.
Violent video games have recently jumped to the forefront of national attention due to a case just argued before the Supreme Court over a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors. With other states considering passing similar laws, the decision could have important free speech implications.
Students’ own topic may very well be something interesting that we missed, so if none of the above areas sound appealing, they are free to suggest another First Amendment-related subject for an interview.