Censorship through Public Information Officers to Be A Focus of Major Meeting on Free Speech At Yale Law School 

By Kathryn Foxhall, SPJ-DC Chapter, kfoxhall@verizon.net
The issue of fighting censorship by federal government and other public information officers will be one of the main topics at the Yale Law School’s upcoming “ Access & Accountability 2021: Seize the Day” conference on October 1-2 via Zoom.

The Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is highlighting this session in particular due to the group’s extensive work opposing the practice of offices and agencies banning employees from speaking to the press or prohibiting such contacts without notifying authorities, often through public information offices.

Speakers at the session will include Kathryn Foxhall, a board member of the SPJ-DC chapter; Gregg Leslie, free speech attorney from Arizona State University; Michael Linhorst of the Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic; and Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information.

Foxhall said at a session at the SPJ 2021 national conference that the prohibition against speaking without oversight, “is just deep corruption for people in power who institute these rules and corruption for journalists who acquiesce to them. It’s the kind of corruption that gets us a public health structure that shows major problems when the crisis of many decades hits and leads to exacerbated problems.”

The opening speaker for the Yale conference will be Floyd Abrams, the well-known First Amendment attorney who won the landmark Supreme Court case on the Pentagon Papers.

The eight other sessions at the conference will be on:
—Thinking Big about Fixing FOIA.
—Rights of the Press Clause.
—Law Enforcement Accountability.
—National Security Accountability.
—Defamation as an Accountability Tool.
—Collaboration Colloquies—projects worthy of cross clinic collaboration, including: Supporting Local Journalism.
—Director’s Dialogue: First Amendment, Friend or Foe.
—Success Stories.

The conference is free, open to the public, and on Zoom. However, registration is required at:

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