The Crisis of the Press and Democracy: Saving the Press Function

Biographies of Panelists

March 19, 2021

12:00 - 1:30 pm EDT The Press that Citizens Need

What kind of journalism do we need to support our democratic government? Who structures our public democratic conversation?

Penny Abernathy, Visiting Professor, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Knight Chair Emeritus, University of North Carolina

Letrell Crittenden, PhD, Program Director, Communication Program and Assistant Professor, Thomas Jefferson University

Jay Rosen, Associate Professor/Studio 20, Director, New York University Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute

Ben Smith, Media Columnist, The New York Times

Moderator: Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, Yale Law School

Addtional Readings:

Penelope Muse-Abernathy website (with its 350 interactive maps that allow users to drill down to the county level in all 50 states)
2020 Report, News Deserts and Ghost Newspapers: Will Local News Survive?”
A review of recent research on related topicsSpotlight on Research”

Letrell Crittenden, The road to making small-town news more inclusive

Letrell Crittenden, Covering Germantown: the road to community engagement

Letrell Crittenden, The Pittsburgh problem: race, media and everyday life in the Steel city

Jay Rosen, America’s Press and the Asymmetric War for Truth

Jay Rosen, Two paths forward for the American Press

Relevant episodes of Media Apocalypse :

Episode 9: Penelope Muse Abernathy on News Deserts and Ghost Newspapers

Episode 10: Jasmine McNealy on Amplifying Otherness

Episode 7: Jay Rosen on Journalism's Agenda

Episode 13: Ben Smith on the Future of Digital News

Episode 19: Margaret Sullivan on Local and National Journalism

1:45 - 3:0 pm EDT Frenemies of the Press

The impact of social media on the press; how social media alters, impedes, undermines and/or supports the press.

Emily Bell, Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia Journalism School

Yochai Benkler, Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies, Harvard Law School, Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

Olivier Sylvain, Professor of Law, Fordham School of Law

Moderator: Kate Klonick, Assistant Professor of Law, St John’s University School of Law

Relevant Episodes of Media Apocalypse:

Episode 2: Jack Balkin on Fixing Social Media

Episode 16: Yochai Benkler on Disinformation & Radicalization in American Politics

Episode 12: Olivier Sylvain on Algorithms and Reforming Social Media

Episode 11: Siva Vaidhyanathan on Social Media and the Press Function

Episode 18: Emily Bell on Local Journalism and News Deserts

3:15 - 4:30 pm EDT Structural Fixes to Protect and Enhance the Press, PART I

Antitrust, tax, nonprofit entities, government funding, data privacy regulation, regulation of social media and search engines, and other potential options for supporting and enhancing press functions and institutions.

Jay Hamilton, Hearst Professor of Communication, Chair, Department of Communication; Director, Stanford Journalism Program, Stanford University

Lyrissa Lidsky, Dean and Judge C.S. Leedy Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Professor of Political Communication, Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford 

Moderator: Scott Shapiro, Charles F. Southmayd Professor of Law and Philosophy, Yale Law School

Relevant episodes of Media Apocalypse:

Episode 14: Jay Hamilton on Computational Journalism

Episode 8: Natali Helberger on News Recommendation Systems

Episode 15: Jameel Jaffer on Social Media Litigation

Episode 6: Jeremy Katz and Robert Davis on Digital Advertising

Episode 5: Martha Minow on the First Amendment and Saving the News

Episode 3: Rasmus Kleis Nielsen on Public Support for the Media

Episode 4: Rasmus Kleis Nielsen on the State of Digital News

Episode 1: Victor Picard on the Public Opinion for Journalism

March 20, 2021

12:00 - 1:15 pm EDT Structural Fixes to Protect and Enhance the Press, PART II

Lina Khan, Associate Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

Steve Waldman, President and Co-Founder of Report for America

Ethan Zuckerman, Associate Professor Public Policy, Communication, Information, Director of the UMass Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure, University of Massachusetts 

Moderator: Scott Shapiro, Charles F. Southmayd Professor of Law and Philosophy, Yale Law School

Relevant episodes of Media Apocalypse:

Episode 17: Steve Waldman on Saving Local News

1:30 - 2:45 pm EDT Interpreting the Press Clause

Why and what should be the press clause’s role? How should it be interpreted? What role might it play in addressing the current crisis? How should it be employed in the new media era?

Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

Sonja West, Otis Brumby Distinguished Professor in First Amendment Law, University of Georgia School of Law

Moderator: RonNell Andersen Jones, Lee. E. Teitelbaum Endowed Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Additional Readings:

Martha Minow, The Changing Ecosystem of News and Challenges for Freedom of the Press (addressing the ways that transformations in technology, economics, and communications jeopardize the production and distribution of, and trust in, news that is essential in a democratic society)

Martha Minow, Saving the News: Why the Constitution Calls for Government Action to Preserve Freedom of Speech

Sonja R. West, Press Exceptionalism, 127 Harv. L. Rev. 2434 (2014)

Sonja R. West, The Majoritarian Press Clause, 2020 U. Chi. Legal F.311

Sonja R. West, The Press Then and Now examining the meaning of the Press” to the founding generation and its implications for Press Clause interpretation)

Sonja R. West, Awakening the Press Clause (arguing that the way to give long-overdue meaning to the Press Clause is to embrace press exceptionalism through a narrow definition of the press)

RonNell Andersen Jones, Sonja R. West, The U.S. Supreme Courts Characterizations of the Press: An Empirical Study (discussing trends in the Courts depictions of the press and press freedom, the declining positivity of tone of characterization, and the impact this may have on the Courts receptivity to an invigorated Press Clause)

RonNell Andersen Jones, Freedom of the Press in Post-Truthism America (discussing the nformation-processing and truth-seeking limitations of individual press consumers and the ways that these limitations might inform the debate over unique Press Clause protections and illuminate the functions that would qualify an institutional actor as the press for purposes of those protection)

RonNell Andersen Jones, Litigation, Legislation, and Democracy in a Post-Newspaper America (discussing the democratic harms, beyond the loss of newsgathering, that accompany the demise of legacy press organizations)

3:00 - 4:15 pm EDT Who is “the Press?”

How do we identify the entities that are now performing the core press functions? What are the benefits and drawbacks of broader or narrower definitions of “the press”? Who and what are we mobilizing to protect?

Amy Gajda, The Class of 1937 Professor of Law, Tulane University Law School

Jamal Greene, Dwight Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

David Schulz, Floyd Abrams Clinical Lecturer in Law and Senior Researcher Scholar in Law, Yale Law School

Moderator: Sandra Baron, Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law and Senior Fellow, Yale Law School

4:15 - 4:30pm EDT Conclusions

This conference is made possible by generous support received from The Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund