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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

First amendment scholar to speak at URI, April 22 to discuss how secrecy hurts democracy

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 19, 2004 -- Jane Kirtley, First Amendment scholar and press freedom advocate, will speak at the University of Rhode Island on Thursday, April 22 at 4 p.m. The talk, free and open to the public, will be held in the Chafee Social Science Center, Room 277, Kingston campus.

Kirtley’s speech, "The Privacy Pretext" will outline how recent government decisions in favor of secrecy are hurting our democracy. Her visit is co-sponsored by the URI Journalism Department and Access/Rhode Island, a broad-based, non-profit freedom of information coalition dedicated to the belief that the records and processes of government must be open to the public.

A distinguished visiting professor at Suffolk University Law School, Kirtley is also a prolific author, as well as a noted commentator and speaker. She has authored articles published in law reviews and media publications, and has appeared before more than 500 groups including the American Bar Association, the International Bar Association, the Canadian Bar Association and the Federal Communications Bar Association. Kirtley's media appearances include "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer," "Nightline," "The Today Show," "Crossfire" and "Morning Edition."

Kirtley speaks frequently on First Amendment and freedom of information issues, both in the United States and abroad, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Mongolia, Hong Kong, and Chile, and writes the "First Amendment Watch" column each month for American Journalism Review.

She has received many awards and honors, including induction into the Medill School of Journalism's Hall of Achievement in 1999; the FOI Hall of Fame in 1996, and the John Peter Zenger Award for Freedom of the Press and the People's Right to Know from the University of Arizona in 1993.

Kirtley has been the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota since 1999. She was named director of the Silha Center in May 2000. Prior to that, she was executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va. for 14 years. Before joining the Reporters Committee staff, Kirtley was an attorney for five years with the law firm of Hargrave, Devans and Doyle in Rochester, N.Y. and Washington D.C. She is a member of the New York, District of Columbia, and Virginia bars. Kirtley also worked as a reporter for the Evansville (Indiana) Press and Oak Ridger and Nashville Banner (Tennessee).