Last week I was in New York for the Media Law Resource Center annual dinner, and the always excellent PLI Communications Law seminar.
The highlight of the MLRC dinner was a panel discussion moderated by ABC News reporter Terry Moran (pinch-hitting for Diane Sawyer), with local media hero Jim Taricani, Matt Cooper, Judith Miller, and Congressman Mike Pence, a sponsor of the federal reporter’s shield law bill. Not too long before the dinner, news broke that Miller resigned from The Times. Talk about a timely event.
Moran did a nice job of moderating. Taricani—in my mind—stood out as the real hero of the night. Jim has a guest commentary piece in the summer issue of The News Media and the Law, published by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, entitled Damned Proud To Be a Journalist. Read it.
Cooper came off as the nice guy he is, although some in the audience were troubled by his apparent resignation to the turning over of his notes and e-mail by his employer, Time magazine.
Miller—under the circumstances—comported herself affably. The fact that she was able to sit up on a stage and face a room full of media people and lawyers, just hours after the announcement of her departure from her journalistic home for almost three decades, offered, perhaps, some insight into why she has a reputation as a tenacious and tough reporter. Nothing wrong with that. She said she would be speaking further about the situation on her Web site.
Congressman Pence was, at least on the issue of a federal shield law, well-received by a crowd that was most likely blue state rather than red state.
The PLI seminar was once again the place to be for media lawyers seeking an annual dose of immersion in the subjects we all love, with speakers and panelists including some of the most respected media practitioners and academics, all shepherded along by former Times Vice Chairman James Goodale. Speakers included—in no particular order, and with no offense to those not listed here—media lawyers Floyd Abrams, Bruce Sanford, Boston’s own Joe Steinfield, and Lee Levine, Jane Kirtley (Silha Center), Lucy Dalglish (RCFP), Sandy Baron (MLRC), George Freeman (Times), Professor Burt Neuborne (NYU), and Judge Robert Sack. Topics included access, libel, newsgathering and privacy torts, commercial speech, the Internet, telecommunications, and, of course, prior restrain and reporter's privilege.