Media Law Resource Center

Serving the Media Law Community Since 1980

Home MLRC Institute
First Amendment Speakers Bureau

The MLRC Institute created the First Amendment Speakers Bureau in 2005 to educate the general public about the importance of the First Amendment.  It currently facilitates presentations on three topics: online news & content, the reporter’s privilege, and censorship.

The Speakers Bureau is made up of reporters, editors and media lawyers from around the country, who have been conducting presentations – at conferences, colleges, high schools, bookstores, rotary clubs and other venues – on these three topics using a “turn-key” set of materials created by the MLRC Institute.

Past presentations have taken place at venues such as the National Press Club, University of Maine, University of Hawaii, Arizona State University, Princeton University, University of Missouri, Southern Methodist University, University of Cincinnati, Wichita State University, and the Journalism Education Association's conferences.

The First Amendment Speakers Bureau has been funded by grants from the Dow Jones Foundation.

CUNY Journalism, Broadcast & New Media Career Fair Webinars

In October 2011, the MLRC Institute worked with the City University of New York (CUNY) to create informational webinars for their Journalism, Broadcast & New Media Internship & Career Fair.  The webinars were webcast in the days leading up to the Career Fair, and were aimed at making the Fair experience more enjoyable, productive and worthwhile.  The webinars were based on the MLRC Institute's Speakers Bureau materials from both the Reporter's Privilege and Online News & Content topics.

Below are the Webinar video recording links, along with their original abstracts:

Reporters' Privilege
(Recorded Thursday, October 27, 2011)

With George Freeman, Vice-President and Assistant General Counsel of The New York Times Co.  Mr. Freeman is on the Adjunct Faculty, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and also teaches at Columbia and NYU.   He is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School.

Watch webinar video.

Libel 101
(Recorded Friday, October 29, 2011
With Washington, D.C. attorney Michael Rothberg, a litigation partner with DowLohnes who focuses primarily on media law. Mr. Rothberg counsels media companies on liability risks in connection with investigative and other high-risk reporting, subpoena and access issues and litigates libel, invasion of privacy, newsgathering, and others suits in state and federal courts throughout the nation.  He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Washington University.

Watch webinar video

The topics on which First Amendment Speakers Bureau presentations are available are:

Online News: Redefining Journalism?

This presentation addresses the media’s use of the Internet; news organizations’ interaction with their audience online; the use of content submitted by readers and viewers; blogs, whether kept by media staff or the public; liability for defamation for statements made online; and copyright and privacy law.

We have prepared a “turn-key” set of materials for speakers to use including both a) an overview presentation and b) handout.  We suggest that journalists and media lawyers give presentations together so as to provide insight into both the practical and legal issues of publishing online.

Reporter’s Privilege: Protecting the Sources of Our News

This presentation provides an explanation of the reporter's privilege and its history, with the heart of the presentation focusing on why this privilege should matter to the public.  Central to the presentations has been journalists telling their own stories – about articles and broadcasts they could not have reported but for their use of confidential sources, and about ever-increasing threats to their use of these sources.

As with presentations on publishing online, we have prepared a “turn-key” set of materials for speakers to use, including, a PowerPoint presentation and written handout materials that provide more background on (a) the history of the privilege, (b) stories that could not have been told but for the use of confidential sources, and (c) the legal bases for the privilege.  We also suggest that journalists and media lawyers from the community jointly make the presentation so that the audience may fully appreciate both the practical importance of and the legal framework for the reporter’s privilege.


This presentation touches upon various types of regulations and censorship relating to everyday individuals, including an overview of censorship in such areas as schools, online, television, and radio.  As with our other presentations, there are materials for speakers to use, including a) basic censorship presentation including an overview of the various areas affected by censorship, b) a handout listing statutes that govern FCC regulations, and c) a handout listing student speech statutes.

Setting up an Event

If you are interested in being a speaker or hosting a presentation in your area, please contact:
Dorianne Van Dyke
WSJ-MLRC Institute Free Speech Fellow
(212) 337-0200, ext. 207
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Joomla Templates: from JoomlaShack