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 protections of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
The Speakers Bureau brings MLRC members, editors, and reporters to bookstores, universities, press associations and schools around the country. Currently, the Speakers Bureau provides presentation materials on three topics: a) Online News: Redifining Journalism, b) Reporter's Privilege: Protecting the Sources of Our News and c) Censorship.
The Speakers Bureau has received excellent feedback from participants in the short time it has existed. Chris Finan, President of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, recently said the following about the Speakers Bureau: " Media lawyers and reporters are on the cutting edge of the fight for First Amendment rights. This program gives bookstore customers the chance to hear about important free speech battles from the people who are fighting them."
As the Speakers Bureau inches closer to its 200th presentation, the MLRC Institute is looking forward to several amazing presentations in the next few months, which will take place in venues across the country.
The First Amendment Speakers Bureau has been funded by grants from the Dow Jones Foundation.
For information about participating in the First Amendment Speakers Bureau or to organize an event, contact Dorianne Van Dyke at
Upcoming Speakers Bureau Presentations
For a complete list of past Speakers Bureau presentations, please click here .
30th Annual Banned Books Week
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression's 30th Annual Banned Books Week will be held from Septemebr 30, 2012-October 6, 2012. The MLRC Institute has teamed up with the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), providing speakers to bookstores that are interested in hosting presentations on Censorship and other freedom of speech related issues.
If you are a bookstore interested in participating, please contact Dorianne Van Dyke at
or Chris Finan of the ABFFE at
Censorship and the First Amendment
Reporter's Privilege: Protecting the Sources of Our News
Presentations on the reporter’s privilege provide an explanation of the 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.
We have prepared a “turn-key” set of materials for speakers to use, including, a Power Point 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.
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.
As with all our other presentations, we have prepared a “turn-key” set of materials for speakers to use, including a basic overview presentation and a handout detaling examples of online news and user generated content. 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.