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Tully Center for Free Speech established at Newhouse School
Tully Center for Free Speech established at Newhouse SchoolSeptember 25, 2006Jaime Winne Alvarezjlwinne@syr.edu
The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University has established the Tully Center for Free Speech, named for Newhouse alumna Joan A. Tully ’69. The Tully Center will educate students and the public about the importance of free speech through research and educational programming and contribute to the national and international discussion on free speech and media law. An inaugural event is slated for Friday, Oct. 13, in honor of the center’s official launch. Noted First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams will deliver the keynote address.
Tully, who died in 2005 at the age of 58 from a brain tumor, gave the generous bequest to fund the center. Tully, who once described herself as a “journeyman journalist,” was also a lawyer and businesswoman who left a legacy linking together keen interests in media and law. She cared deeply about protecting and promoting freedom of speech and with her gift hoped to encourage teaching and research on media law and free speech and honor communicators who face free speech threats.
“Joan Tully felt, as do we, that the First Amendment is only as strong as the public’s support for it. Sadly, we are in an era when the public little understands the meaning and purpose of the First Amendment, and when government at all levels often frustrates the goal of creating an open marketplace of ideas and an informed public,” says Newhouse Dean David Rubin. “We hope the Tully Center will address the former problem, and that public pressure will address the latter.”
The Tully Center will bring to campus noted speakers on current media law issues to enhance student and faculty understanding of the vital role of free speech. The Newhouse School prepares students for careers in the communications industry, and all majors are required to take a media law course; the center’s resources will enhance these courses. It will also foster interdisciplinary work on media law issues among the University’s schools and colleges and serve as an information clearinghouse on media law issues in New York state.
Barbara Croll Fought, J.D., associate professor of broadcast journalism and communications law at Newhouse, has been named center director. Like Tully, Fought throughout her career has merged interests in media and law. As a television news producer, she earned 20 awards, including nine Emmys. After obtaining a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy, she became a member of the Newhouse faculty in 1993. Fought is nationally known for running FOI-L, an Internet discussion group on citizen access to information. In 2003, she received the Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her work on freedom of information issues.
Abrams, often regarded as the nation’s pre-eminent First Amendment attorney, will deliver the keynote address, “The State of Free Speech,” Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. in Studio A, Newhouse II. Abrams has argued significant First Amendment cases in the U.S. Supreme Court over the past 30 years. He is a New York attorney specializing in freedom of speech and press issues and a partner in the law firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel, where Tully once worked. He has chaired several American Bar Association committees and was co-counsel for The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case. Abrams is currently the William J. Brennan Jr. Visiting Professor of First Amendment Issues in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
The center’s official launch will also include a symposium on current media law issues beginning at 2:30 and 4 p.m. in A1 and A2, Newhouse I. Topics include:
- “Abrams on the Law”: Question-and-answer session with Abrams and a student panel on current media law issues, including reporter confidentiality, Internet governance and sexual content in media;
- “Student Free Speech Rights at a Private University”: Presentations by Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, and Kal Alston, SU associate provost for academic affairs;
- “SU’s Most Famous Free Speech Case 55 Years Later”: Interview with free speech activist Irving Feiner, a former SU student arrested while speaking at a rally a few blocks from campus in 1949, who fought his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court;
- “Sex and Free Speech: Indecency Enforcement in 2006”: SU College of Law Professor LaVonda Reed-Huff, writer/producer and Newhouse adjunct instructor Thomas Seeley and Newhouse professor Robert Thompson of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture outline the legal issues, discuss sexual content in media, and add their perspectives.
The Tully Center inauguration is co-sponsored by the Bleier Center, the Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries, and the Communication Law and Policy Society. For more information, visit http://tully.syr.edu or contact Fought at (315) 443-4054 or firstname.lastname@example.org.