2 Sunshine Week Events to Explore First Amendment Issues

Discussions Will Be Held on Campus and in DC

Columbia, Mo. (March 8, 2016) — As journalists and citizens across the country re-examine the First Amendment and Freedom of Information during Sunshine Week, March 13 to 19, the Missouri School of Journalism will host several public discussions among professionals, academics, citizens and students. These explorations of fundamental rights, if sometimes in conflict, could not come at a more opportune time in American society.

Sunshine Week 2016The Missouri-Hurley Symposium will explore diversity, inclusion and the First Amendment on Thursday, March 17, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The reception will begin at 6 p.m., with the program to follow at 7 p.m. The event is free. Register at www.mizzou.com/DCSymposium.

On March 14 and 15 on the University of Missouri campus the Missouri School of Journalism and the Lee Hills Chair in Free-Press Studies, along with Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, will conduct a number of events focused on freedom of information. Additional details of the sessions, all of which are free and open to the public, are available on online. All sessions will be held in the Fred W. Smith Forum (Room 200), 2nd floor, Reynolds Journalism Institute, 401 S. Ninth St.

As the public, policy makers, academics and government officials discuss the ineffectiveness of our government at all levels and particularly at the federal level, the role of the media and the issue of transparency has become a major part of the debate, according to Amy McCombs, who holds the Lee Hills Chair at the School.

“Many believe there is a real threat to journalism, the First Amendment and the public’s right to know what its government is doing,” McCombs said. “Others feel that transparency has gotten in the way of good governance.”

Chuck Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, and Professor Bruce Cain of Stanford University, a distinguished political scientist who focuses on government, politics and the media’s coverage of politics, will share their views, experiences and insights, culminating in a Tuesday debate between them: “Is Our Government Too Open?” Both have written op-eds that will be published on websites and in newspapers around the country during the week of March 14.

Monday, March 14


  • Brown Bag: Freedom of Information: 50 Years Later
  • Moderator: Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation and an MU alumna. Bring your own lunch.

Tuesday, March 15

2 to 3 p.m.

  • Master Class with Chuck Lewis, Barbara Petersen and Alasdair Roberts, professor at the Truman School of Public Affairs and author of “Government Secrecy in the Information Age.”

6:30 p.m.

  • Debate: Is Our Government Too Open?
  • Discussants: Chuck Lewis and Bruce Cain. Moderator: Barbara Petersen.

7 to 8:30 p.m.

  • Debate

The hashtag, #opengovdebate, is available to those who would like to join the conversation before, during and after the event using on social media. The event can also be viewed on a live stream on the computer, tablet or smartphone.

Updated: September 15, 2020

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