Program addresses media access

June 3, 2010
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IL staff reporter Rebecca Berfanger wrote this post.

Here at Indiana Lawyer it usually isn’t too difficult to get information for articles. While that’s not always the case, for the most part our sources are our readers and subscribers. So I like to think they understand that by helping IL reporters their information will be treated fairly and accurately. In fact, sometimes I’m still surprised how much information attorneys are willing to share with me on some stories. It’s also a pleasant surprise that many sources are willing to go the extra mile to share information, including a cell phone number to reach them when they’re out of the office, or an e-mail sent long after regular business hours are over.

But not every bit of information is easy to find, and we’re not naïve in thinking that every journalist has it as easy as we often do when it comes to information gathering.

To explain what journalists have to overcome, Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington, with support from the I.U. School of Journalism, WTIU and Elon University has put together a new DVD: “Access Denied: Navigating the Legal Challenges to Newsgathering.” It features a round-table discussion of scholars, journalists, and attorneys on some of the issues journalists face when trying to access information that prior to 9/11 was thought of as public and accessible.

The program will also air on Bloomington PBS affiliate WTIU, which is also available to DirecTV and Dish Network subscribers with the Indianapolis local stations package. The first part was broadcast today at 1 p.m., and will again be aired June 10 at 9 p.m., and June 20 at 4 p.m. The second part will air June 10 at 1 p.m., June 17 at 9 p.m., and June 20 at 5 p.m.

“New privacy rights, restrictions on federal and state freedom of information laws, secret judicial dockets and the closure of traditionally public records are making information harder to access in both the public and private sectors,” professor Fred H. Cate, who moderated the forum, said in a news release.

Panelists include David Cuillier, a former reporter and editor and current assistant professor in the University of Arizona School of Journalism and the Freedom of Information Committee chairman for the Society of Professional Journalists; Stephen Key, a former journalist who is general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, which happens to be in the same building as Indiana Lawyer’s offices; Jane E. Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law and a faculty member at the University of Minnesota; Toni Locy, the Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Legal Reporting at Washington & Lee University and a former reporter for the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Associated Press; and Dennis R. Ryerson, editor and vice president of The Indianapolis Star.

“Every communication and journalism school in the United States, every law school offering media and communications law courses, every state media association, and every state open records or public access group,” will receive a copy of the DVD, according to the release. There will also be a discussion guide available online.

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues