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Law and Media Conference debates freedom of the student press and open records

The lasting impact of a U.S. Supreme Court decision 25 years ago that limited the freedom of student-run newspapers was debated at the Ohio State Bar Association’s annual Law and Media Conference on Oct. 4, 2013.

More than 150 lawyers, judges, journalists, professors and students attended the day-long event that started with a panel discussion about the Supreme Court’s Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision that the First Amendment rights of student journalists are not violated when school officials prevent the publication of certain articles in the school newspaper. Panelists included Frank LoMonte, a lawyer with the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., and an advocate for student First Amendment rights, freedom of online speech and open government on campus.

“The conference was a great opportunity for lawyers and reporters to learn to operate more effectively in an ever-changing world of media,” OSBA Media Law Committee Chairman Dan Trevas said. “We also felt we achieved our goal of providing a wide variety of topics on the minds of Ohio reporters wrangling with legal matters and Ohio lawyers navigating their way through the world of new media.”

The conference attracted journalists from around the state and the nation. John Carpenter, former editor of Homicide Watch Chicago for the Chicago Sun-Times and currently a reporter for Chicago Tribune, joined a panel to talk about the Internet’s effect on journalism, including competition, intellectual property and the impact of social media on news delivery. Andrew Alexander, journalist and former ombudsman for The Washington Post, participated in the panel that explored journalism in an age of staff and production downsizing.

Public records access was the focus of two break-out sessions, including a discussion about the current state of public records law in Ohio. Another popular session, “Five Things Lawyers Hate about Journalists and Five Things Journalists Hate about Lawyers,” gave lawyers and journalists a chance to share their concerns and improve interactions between the professions.

The Law and Media Conference is sponsored jointly by the OSBA, the Ohio Newspaper Association, the Ohio Association of Broadcasters and the Central Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Content courtesy of Court News Ohio.

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