Monthly Workshops


10/13/2020: Mark Thompson (Former New York Times CEO), "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Securing the Future of Independent News"

SERIOUS INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM FACES two existential threats: economic destruction because of the failure of so many news organizations to find an adequate response to the digital challenge; and political and cultural rejection, not just by a new generation of populist leaders but by activists and pressure groups across the ideological spectrum. MARK THOMPSON, the outgoing CEO of The New York Times and a former Director-General of the BBC, explores these two – profoundly interconnected threats – and proposes how the news business can fight back and secure its own future. This event is the annual Annenberg Lecture and part of the Mitchell Center's Free Speech Battles series. It is co-sponsored by the Annenberg School for Communication, the Annenberg Public Policy Center, and the Center for Media @ Risk.

10/29/2020: Derek Black (Former White Nationalist), "The Opening of a White Nationalist Mind"

GROWING UP AS THE SON OF POPULAR radio host Don Black, who is credited with coining the term "white nationalism," DEREK BLACK became well-versed in the strategic use of speech: how, for instance, the subtle semantic shift from "white supremacy" to "white nationalism" helped racist ideas gain wider currency and acceptance. When he entered college, he encountered a different array of speech strategies aimed at countering his beliefs, ranging from outright shunning by outraged protesters to patient challenges to his beliefs by fellow students who accepted him as a person. These experiences have given him a unique vantage point not only on the roots of white nationalism and the ways it might be countered, but on both the deep value and potential dangers of free expression.


Campus Speech Battles Conference

9/24/20: Cerri Banks and Howard Gillman on "Student Speech and Administrative Responses"

9/25/2020: Geoffrey Stone on "The Chicago Statement Today"

9/25/2020: john powell and Nadine Strossen on "Current Free Speech Challenges on Campus and Beyond"

9/29/2020: Hank Reichman and Joan Scott on "Academic Freedom and Student Activism"

11/19/2020: Brian Berkey, Genevieve Lakier, and Amanda Shanor in a panel discussion on "Boycotts and Free Speech: BDS and Beyond"

BOYCOTTS OF CONSUMER GOODS as a means of applying political pressure have been part of American life since the first rumblings of the American Revolution. The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the movement to divest from South Africa demonstrated the continuing salience of this strategy. Recently, however, the call by the BDS movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction businesses and organizations associated with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has been met by state laws outlawing such actions. Ethicist BRIAN BERKEY (Wharton School) and legal scholars GENEVIEVE LAKIER (University of Chicago Law School) and AMANDA SHANOR (Wharton School) examine the First Amendment issues at play in this and similar conflicts. Go here to read Prof. Lakier's essay.


12/10/2020: Jaime Settle discusses on "Internet Speech and Democratic Politics"

WHEN WE CONSIDER THE POTENTIAL THREATS POSED by social media to our democracy, we tend to focus on bad actors and their malicious intent. From this standpoint, the task of protecting democracy while preserving legitimate speech is a matter of targeting the trolls and bots that distort online discourse. JAIME SETTLE, author of Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America, suggests that the problem goes deeper. It may be that the forms of expression found on social media undermine, in and of themselves, the mutual tolerance required by a functioning democracy – that we become our own worst enemies. In the face of this challenge, Settle offers a framework to reduce polarization while upholding free speech rights.