Earlier this month, press freedom experts from around the country descended on Allen Hall, prepared for a day of interrogation, argument and objection.

Attorneys arguing a case? Not quite. They were on campus for the “Summit on Freedom of the Press in the Twenty First Century,” a first-of-its-kind gathering of media law scholars charged with exploring the contradictions, tensions and paradoxes that characterize discussions about a free press.

The 20 plus participants — who gathered at the behest of Kyu Ho Youm, president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) — took on the challenge to move beyond the First Amendment to answer the question: “How should we define the terms of the debate over what “freedom of the press” means, where it applies, and what it requires?”

The summit was organized by Ted Glasser, professor of communication at Stanford University, and SOJC Edwin L. Artzt Dean Tim Gleason and held in cooperation with the AEJMC.

“It was exciting to see so many of the field’s top scholars gathered for a day of uninterrupted discussion of ideas and issues of enduring importance,” Glasser said. “We seldom have an opportunity to do that.”

In the weeks before the event, participants shared readings and defined the agenda for each of the panels: The Political Economy of Press Freedom, Privileges for the Press, Privacy and the Press, and Press and Secrecy. Each panel consisted of five or six invited scholars as well as UO faculty and students who joined in the discussion.

Youm, SOJC professor and Jonathan Marshall First Amendment Chair, said the day-long intensive worked well and gave participants the chance to grapple with complicated issues.

“The four panels have sharply defined the terms of the press freedom debate by critically assessing the state vs. press relationship and the press vs. individual relationship,” Youm said.

The Summit was the first conference held in the newly transformed Allen Hall. Panels met in collaboration rooms throughout the building, with the day beginning and ending in a discussion among all of the participants in the Dixon Signature Classroom.

“Allen Hall 3.0 continues to meet all of our expectations,” Gleason said after greeting the group of newly graduated Chicago medical malpractice attorneys. “We were able to bring a remarkable group of scholars, scientists, lawyers and leaders together and rather than having them hidden away in closed conference rooms, they were incorporated into the creative transparency that is the Allen Hall experience.”

Panel leaders will each be preparing reports summarizing the discussion and highlighting whatever consensus or conclusions the group reached. Taken together, these four reports will constitute a paper, “Freedom of the Press in the Twenty-First Century: An Agenda for Thought and Action,” which will be presented in August 2013 in Washington, D. C., at the annual AEJMC conference.

“We look forward to presenting measured reports on economics and power, privileges, freedom against privacy, and suppression of information,” Youm said.

Panelists included:

David Allen, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Mike Ananny, University of Southern California; RonNell Andersen Jones, Brigham Young University; Tom Bivins, University of Oregon; Clay Calvert,
University of Florida, Robert Drechsel, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Anthony Fargo, Indiana University; Amy Gajda, Tulane University; Ted Glasser, Stanford University; Tim Gleason, University of Oregon; Wat Hopkins Virginia Tech; Bruce Johnson, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP; Jane Kirtley,
University of Minnesota; Jasmine McNealy, Syracuse University; Robert Picard, Oxford University; Amy Sanders, University of Minnesota; Derigan Silver, University of Denver; Jeff Smith, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Tom Streeter, University of Vermont; Erik Ugland, Marquette University; Stephen Ward, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Janet Wasko, University of Oregon; Edward Wasserman, University of California, Berkeley; Morgan Weiland, Stanford University; and Kyu Ho Youm, University of Oregon.