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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI to host panel discussion on media access, Station Nightclub fire

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Discussion part of national ‘Sunshine Week’

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 22, 2007 -- The University of Rhode Island will host a panel discussion March 13 at 7 p.m. on media coverage in the aftermath of the Station Nightclub Fire, with an emphasis on access to public records. The panel will explore the difficulties reporters faced in obtaining records regarding the case and the investigation. The discussion is particularly timely since the Attorney General’s office has released grand jury testimony in the criminal case.

The presentation, free and open to the public, will be held in Independence Auditorium, 60 Upper College Road, Kingston Campus.

The evening is jointly sponsored by URI’s Journalism Department and ACCESS/Rhode Island, a broad-based, non-profit freedom of information coalition dedicated to improving citizen access to the records and processes of government in the state.

“This panel is one in a series of programs the Journalism Department has sponsored in recent years so that the University community and others can understand and appreciate the importance of transparency at all levels of government,” comments Linda Lotridge Levin, chair of URI’s Journalism Department.

Ross Cheit of Brown University, a founding member of ACCESS/Rhode Island and a member of the Ethics Commission will moderate.

Panelists for the evening are:

• Joel Rawson, senior vice president and executive editor, The Providence Journal
• Paul Edward Parker, Providence Journal reporter who covered the fire from its onset
• Joseph Cavanagh, noted First Amendment attorney, Blish and Cavanaugh
• Lise Gescheidt, attorney, Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys

The discussion is part of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include print, broadcast and online news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.