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State of Our Satirical Union

April 20-21, 2018

Cowles Auditorium, West Bank

“The State of Our Satirical Union: Hustler Magazine , Inc. v. Falwell at 30” symposium will mark the anniversary of a landmark Supreme Court decision, issued in 1988, affirming the First Amendment right of editorial cartoonists and satirists to lampoon public figures.

But 30 years later, cartoonists and journalists face intimidation on social media platforms.  Satirists of all stripes are working in an environment that presents challenges to freedom of speech unimaginable when the unanimous court decided Hustler v. Falwell.  There are calls to change libel laws to make it easier to sue the news media.  In the era of Trump and Charlie Hebdo, will Hustler’s protections endure?

The symposium will explore the many dimensions of the Hustler decision, including the history of the case and participation by editorial cartoonists and other First Amendment advocates as “friends of the court.”  Leading media law scholars and editorial cartoonists will interpret the legacy of the ruling in the context of major political events and legal developments of the last 30 years.

The symposium will feature some of the country’s best-known editorial cartoonist, whose work will be displayed throughout the event.


For more information, click here.

Co-sponsored by:

The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The Minnesota Journalism Center at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists




32nd Annual Silha Lecture featuring David McCraw,

Deputy General Counsel of The New York Times

"Making Media Law Great Again:

The First Amendment in the Time of Trump"


Monday, October 2, 2017

7:30 pm

Cowles Auditorium, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus

David McCraw

David McCraw

In October 2016 New York Times’ deputy general David McCraw wrote a letter to Donald Trump’s attorney defending the right of The New York Times to publish a news story over which Trump had threatened a lawsuit.  The letter became an instant sensation, with more than two million people reading it on the Times website alone.

Despite apparently rising to fame overnight, however, McCraw had already compiled a record as one of the nation’s most prolific litigators of freedom-of-information cases.  The 15-years Times veteran has been the lawyer behind every major investigative story the paper has published in recent years, including three that won Pulitzer Prizes.  In 35 FOIA suits he has helped pry loose secret documents on topics ranging from drone strikes in Yemen to the U.S. government’s burgeoning surveillance program.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, Cornell University, and Albany Law School, David McCraw is an adjunct professor at NYU Law School.  In 2010, the New York City Bar awarded him its Cyrus Vance Award for his international pro bono work promoting free expression. 

McCraw will deliver the 32nd annual Silha Lecture on Monday, October 2, 2017.  His lecture, entitled, “Making Media Law Great Again: The First Amendment in the Time of Trump” will begin at 7:30 pm at Cowles Auditorium, located within the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the University of Minnesota’s Twin City campus.  The lecture is free and open to the public; no reservations are needed.  Additional information about the lecture is available online at



2017 Forum Flier


2017 Silha Center Spring Forum/SPJ Ethics in Journalism Week

“Making News or Faking News?  Ethical Journalism in a Post-Truth Era”

April 24, 2017


to view a video of this event, click here

Who defines which news is “fake”? How do ethical principles help the media detect and combat fake news?  How can the public recognize fake news? Do social media contribute to the problem?  Should the government have a role in “calling out” fake news? Do we need a “Ministry of Truth?” Can democracy survive fake news?

Featured speaker:

Joshua Gillin, staff writer for PolitiFact, PunditFact and the Tampa Bay Times, will be the principal speaker. His current assignment is to debunk fake news items and examine how they are spread online. He previously was a reporter, editor and blogger for tbt*, the daily tabloid edition of the Times, and has written about media news for The Poynter Institute.  He has worked in many writing and editing capacities in news, sports and features at the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.His journalism degree is from the University of Nebraska.

Panelists included:

Leila Brammer, Professor and Chair in Communications Studies, Gustavus Adolphus College;

Sarah Bauer Jackson, program director, Minnesota Newspaper Association; former executive director, Minnesota News Council;

Brian Lambert, MinnPost;

Ricardo Lopez, political reporter, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Jane E. Kirtley, Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law and director of the Silha Center, will moderate.

Silha Center events are supported by the generosity of the late Otto Silha and his wife, Helen.