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Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law
silha@umn.edu
612-625-3421
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Silha Center

Welcome

2013 Silha Lecture
The Lessons Of the Pentagon Papers:
Has Obama Learned Them?

The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law was established in 1984 with an endowment from Otto and Helen Silha. Located within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, the Silha Center is the vanguard of the School's interest in the ethical responsibilities and legal rights of the mass media in a democratic society.

The Center focuses on the concepts and values that define the highest ideals of American journalism: freedom and fairness. It honors the importance of these ideals by examining their theoretical and practical applications and by recognizing the interdependence of ethical and legal principles.




 

 

 

 

Silha Research Assistantships for 2016-17

If you are a University of Minnesota law or graduate student, consider applying for a Silha Center Research Assistantship for 2016-17. Past Silha Research Assistants have helped research for various projects, including a comprehensive outline on global data protection and digital privacy law for the Practising Law Institute’s annual Communications Law in the Digital Age conference, drafted comments on proposed regulations and rules before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, and prepared amicus briefs, including before the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to undertaking scholarly research, Silha Fellows and Research Assistants are responsible for the writing, editing and production of the Silha Center’s Bulletin.

Applicants for the Silha Research Assistantships should demonstrate strong legal research skills and excellent writing skills. Students pursuing a law degree or a concentration in legal scholarship are ideal. Applicants with an undergraduate journalism degree and/or prior experience in journalism are very strongly preferred. Applicants should also have an interest in media ethics.

Assistantships are usually awarded for one academic year (Fall and Spring semesters), but at least one position will begin in Summer 2016. Applicants seeking a Research Assistantship for Summer 2016 only will also be considered. Appointments range from a minimum of 10 hours to a maximum of 20 hours per week, and include a stipend and, during the academic year, partial tuition and health insurance benefits. 

Click here to see a detailed description of the position and what is needed to apply.

To obtain a copy of the SJMC scholarship application, or to submit a completed Silha Center Research Assistantship application, please contact Jennifer Welsh, SJMC Graduate Student Services, at 612-625-4054 or e-mail jwelsh@umn.edu  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, but should be submitted no later than March 4, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.

 

Noteworthy Silha Activities:

2015 Silha Lecture: 30th Annual Silha Lecture

A video of the 2015 Lecture is now available online. You can view it here.

A slideshow with photographs from the 2015 Lecture is now available online. You can view it here.

October 19, 2015
7:30 PM
Coffman Theater, Coffman Memorial Union
University of Minnesota East Bank


"Clear and Present Danger:
Covering National Security Issues in the Post 9/11 World"


with James Risen, Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times investigative journalist,

and Joel Kurtzberg, media attorney.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, government officials often justify secrecy as necessary to protect national security.  But without information, how can citizens hold their government accountable?  To gather the news the public needs to know, journalists may turn to sources who will speak only on the condition that their identities are kept confidential.  When leaks trigger criminal investigations, zealous prosecutors subpoena reporters to force them to reveal their sources.  Journalists who refuse to testify face the threat of fines and jail.  The result is a no-win situation for sources, for journalists, and for the public.

One journalist who has faced this predicament is New York Times investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner James Risen.  On Monday, October 19, 2015, Risen and his attorney, Joel Kurtzberg, will discuss the legal and journalistic challenges that arise when reporting the national security beat and using confidential sources at the 30th Annual Silha Lecture, “Clear and Present Danger: Covering National Security Issues in the Post-9/11 World,” sponsored by the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law.

In 2011, Risen was subpoenaed to testify in the prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer accused of several counts of violating the Espionage Act.  During a four-year court battle, federal prosecutors demanded Risen’s testimony, claiming he was the only person who had direct knowledge of whether Sterling had actually disclosed classified material.  Despite orders instructing him to testify, Risen refused to identify the confidential sources for his book, State of War, and two articles on national security issues, one of which quoted Sterling.  Risen appealed the orders to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear his case.  In January 2015, Department of Justice officials finally conceded in court filings that Risen’s consistent and steadfast refusal to identify his source “laid to rest any doubt concerning whether he will ever disclose his source or sources.  He will not.”  They dropped the subpoena, and Sterling was later found guilty of violating the Espionage Act without Risen’s testimony.

Despite this victory for his client, Kurtzberg said Risen’s battle demonstrates how far the government will go to force a reporter to reveal confidential communications. “The significance of this goes beyond Jim Risen.  It affects journalists everywhere.  Journalists need to be able to uphold that confidentiality in order to do their jobs,” Kurtzberg told the New York Times.  The newspaper commented in an editorial that “The abandoned pursuit of Mr. Risen leaves behind an atrocious legal precedent: a 2-to-1 ruling in 2013 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Virginia, which denied the existence of any reporter’s privilege in the First Amendment or common law.”

The 30th Annual Silha Lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. on October 19 at the Coffman Theater in Coffman Memorial Union on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus. James Risen’s book, Pay Any Price, will be available for purchase and signing immediately following the Silha Lecture.

The Silha Lecture is free and open to the public.  No reservations or tickets are required.  Parking is available in the East River Road Garage.  Additional information about directions and parking can be found at http://www1.umn.edu/pts/.

The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law is based at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Minnesota.  Silha Center activities, including the annual Lecture, are made possible by a generous endowment from the late Otto Silha and his wife, Helen.  For further information, please contact the Silha Center at 612-625-3421 or silha@umn.edu, or visit www.silha.umn.edu.

About the Speakers:

James Risen is a graduate of Brown University, where he majored in history, and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.  He joined the New York Times in 1998 after previously working for the Los Angeles Times.  He has won several awards for his journalistic work, including Pulitzer Prizes in 2002 and 2006, the 2006 Goldsmith Prize for investigative reporting, and the 2003 Cornelius Ryan Award from the Overseas Press Club.  He is the author of four books, two of which are national bestsellers: State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (Free Press, 2006), and Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). 

Joel Kurtzberg is a partner at the law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP in New York who focuses on general commercial litigation. He has extensive experience in legal issues related to media organizations and the First Amendment, representing reporters in cases involving former CIA operative Valerie Plame and alleged spy Wen Ho Lee.  He teaches a mass media law course as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School as well as a course on Internet law as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law.  He formerly served as the New York State Bar Association’s chair of the Media Law Committee.  Kurtzberg graduated from Harvard Law School in 1996.

 

2014 Silha Lecture

A video of the 2014 Lecture is now available online. You can view it here.

October 6, 2014
7:00 pm Cowles Auditorium
University of Minnesota West Bank, Twin Cities Campus

"See No Evil:
Why We Need A New Approach to Government Transparency"

Featuring
David A. Schulz

David A. Schulz
Partner, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP
Co-Director of the Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School
Counsel to The Associated Press, New York Times, Guardian, and other investigative news organizations

On the 25th anniversary of Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee, one of the nation’s leading advocates for press access and the public’s right to know will explore the judicial and bureaucratic debilitation of the Freedom of Information Act since 9/11, and the critical need to broaden and enforce the First Amendment right of access to government proceedings and records. The discussion will consider the untapped potential of the constitutional access right and the role of the press in illuminating issues ranging from “secret law” articulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to the government’s plans to prevent Guantanamo detainees from testifying publicly at their own trials, to a State’s ability to keep secret the formulas used for lethal injection executions.

This event is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

For additional information, contact the Silha Center at 612-625-3421 or at silha@umn.edu

 

David A. Schulz was interviewed on MPR's "The Daily Circuit" on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. A recording of that interview is available here.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune covered the 2014 Silha Lecture in an article entitled, "Full Disclosure: Sounding the Alarm about Secrecy." The article is available online here.

 

Symposium Honoring Silha Professor Emeritus Donald M. Gillmor

“How Far from Near? 50 Years of New York Times v. Sullivan in Minnesota and Beyond: A Symposium Honoring the Legacy of Silha Professor Emeritus Donald M. Gillmor.”Donald Gillmor

The symposium, co-sponsored by the School of Journalism and Journalism and the Silha Center, took place on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 in Cowles Auditorium, in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the West Bank, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Campus.


Videos and photos of the event are available here.

 

Download the full brochure

 

 

Noteworthy Activities by Silha Center Director/Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law

Professor Jane Kirtley:

 

Professor Jane Kirtley Moderates Participates in Panel: "What Can We Learn from Pointergate?"

On December 8, 2014, Professor Jane Kirtley participated in a panel discussion entitled, "What Can We Learn from Pointergate?" sponsored by the Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Silha Center, the Minnesota Journalism Center, and the Twin Cities chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) at Cowles Auditorium at the University of Minnesota. A video of the event is available online at http://theuptake.org/live-video-post/journalists-discuss-pointergate/.

 

Professor Jane Kirtley Moderates "Freedom and Power in the Digital Age"

On September 17, 2014, Professor Jane Kirtley was the moderator for "Freedom and Power in the Digital Age." The event featured a presentation by Ben Blink, Senior Policy Analyst for Google, followed by a conversation with Professor Kirtley.  The program and was held in Cowles Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus and was sponsored by the Minnesota International Center, whose website is available online at http://www.micglobe.org/. A video of the event is available online at http://youtu.be/dlSsIe783tQ, and photos of the event are available at http://goo.gl/QDMj3J.

 

Professor Jane Kirtley Interviewed by KARE

On July 29, 2013, Professor Jane Kirtley was interviewed by KARE 11 news about the Jesse Ventura trial. The interview aired on July 29 on KARE 11 News at 10 and on July 30 on KARE 11 News Sunrise.

Professor Jane Kirtley Interviewed by WCCO

On July 7, 2014, Professor Jane Kirtley was interviewed for WCCO TV's "News at 10" in a segment entitled "Ventura Heads to Federal Court with Libel Case."


Professor Jane Kirtley Writes Editorial for London's The Guardian Newspaper

On May 15, 2014, The Guardian (London) published an editorial written by Professor Jane Kirtley entitled “Why the US constitution gives you the right to know lethal injection’s secrets.”  The article is available online at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/15/constitution-lethal-injection-secrets.

 

Professor Jane Kirtley Panelist in Philadelphia Ethics Conference

On October 4, 2013, Professor Jane Kirtley was a panelist at the "Professional Ethics in National Security Law and Politics" conference in Philadelphia, PA.  The conference was sponsored by the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She appeared on Panel 1, "Journalists and National Security Reporting: The Ethics of Leaks."  Additional information about the conference is available online at:
https://www.law.upenn.edu/institutes/cerl/conferences/ethicsnationalsecurity/

 

Professor Jane Kirtley Interviewed on KMSP TV

On July 18, 2013. Professor Jane Kirtley was interviewed by Rob Olson of Fox 9 (KMSP TV) for the "Fox at 5" evening newscast, discussing Rolling Stone's cover with the controversial photograph of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  Information about the broadcast is available online at http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/video?clipId=9103584&autoStart=true.

 

Professor Jane Kirtley, SJMC Grad Student Holly Miller Author Front Page Article in Committee News, the Newletter for the American Bar Association's Media, Privacy, and Defamation Law Committee

Professor Jane Kirtley and Holly Miller, a JD/MA candidate in the dual degree program through the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication and its Law School, authored an article entitled, "Media's Quote Approval Practice Raises Ethical and Legal Concerns." The article appeared on the front page of the Winter 2013 edition of Committee News, the Newletter for the American Bar Association's Media, Privacy, and Defamation Law Committee. The newsletter is available here.

Professor Jane Kirtley Quoted in Kyrgyzstan Newspaper

While speaking on a visit to Kyrgyzstan, Professor Kirtley was featured in a two-page article in the Vecherniy Bishkek with a headline which read: “No government can limit free speech.” The article was published in October 2012.

Professor Kirtley interviewed for Vecherniy Bishkek

The entire article is available online at
http://www.vb.kg/doc/203485_professor_djeyn_kirtli:_nikakomy_pravitelstvy_nelzia_ogranichivat_svobody_slova.html

Professor Jane Kirtley appears on TPT's Almanac

September 21, 2012 – Professor Jane Kirtley was a member of the "Media Panel" on TPT's Almanac show, discussing current journalism ethics issues, including the use of the secretly-recorded Romney tape, linking to the "Innocence of Muslims," and The New York Times' new policy prohibiting reporters from granting "quote approval" to sources. The program is available online at: http://www.tpt.org/?a=programs&id=4875

Professor Jane Kirtley speaks at Paris conference sponsored by UNESCO and the World Press Freedom Committee

On February 16, 2012, Professor Jane Kirtley was a speaker on a panel, "International Law After WikiLeaks" at a conference, "The Media World After WikiLeaks and News of the World," sponsored by UNESCO and the World Press Freedom Committee, held at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris, France, on Feb. 16-17, 2012. A video of the event is available online here:
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/events/calendar-of-events/events-websites/the-media-world-after-wikileaks-and-news-of-the-world/webcast-recordings/
(Professor Kirtley's presentation appears in the16 February, Part 3 portion, about an hour into the video.)

Professor Jane Kirtley featured on CLA

Professor Jane Kirtley, Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law and Director of the Silha Center at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota was featured on the College of Liberal Arts homepage after speaking on Minnesota Public Radio's Midday about the state of the media in 2011 on Minnesota Public Radio's Midday program.

Professor Jane Kirtley Answers WCCO's Jason Derusha's Good Question:
How Free is Free Speech?

Professor Jane Kirtley Discusses Violent Video Game Ban and Free Speech

Professor Kirtley was on Fox 9 Monday, June 27 discussing the Supreme Court's decision in the "violent videos" case.

That same day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states do not have the right to ban violent video games from children as this would ban the children's rights to free speech. The 2010 Silha Lecture, hosted by the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics & Law, was delivered by Paul Smith, the attorney who represented the video games industry and whose argument prevailed in the case.

News Release

U of M professor Jane Kirtley authors new "Media Law Handbook" for the U.S. State Department

Europe in the News

Away from Democracy and Toward a Dictatorship? Hungary's New Media Law
Featuring Professor Jane E. Kirtley, SilhaProfessor of Media Ethics and Law
February 23, 2011, 2:30pm–3:30pm

Jane Kirtley, Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law and Director of the Silha Center,
on TPT's "Almanac"

Tributes to the late Donald M. Gillmor, founding director of the Silha Center, may be found here.

 

Latest Edition: Silha Bulletin

Bulletin Fall 2013: Volume 19, No. 1

Download full text (PDF)