Fresno State’s Institute for Media and Public Trust will present a First Amendment forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at the Leon S. and Pete P. Peters Educational Center in the Student Recreation Center. This free event is open to the public.

The forum will feature an expert panel that will explore free-speech issues on university campuses throughout the country. The panel will also discuss how the First Amendment, academic freedom, tenure and collective bargaining relate to the topic. In addition, the subject of free speech will be discussed on a broader scale, including recent challenges in K-12 schools in the San Joaquin Valley.

The Institute for Media and Public Trust, established in June, studies media literacy and “fake news” and develops strategies to restore trust in all forms of media. The Institute is housed in the Department of Media, Communications and Journalism in the University’s College of Arts and Humanities. Jim Boren, the former executive editor of The Fresno Bee, is the executive director of the Institute.

“We believe this forum is important to the ongoing community conversation, not only to add to the knowledge base, but to also model ways to have civil conversations on some of the most divisive issues of our times,” said Boren, who will be the moderator for the panel. “We can passionately disagree on these issues, but do it in a way that we hear the arguments being made on the other side. Too often, the conversations on social media and other platforms have adversaries speaking past one another.”

Panelists for the forum are:

  • Thomas Holyoke, chair of Academic Senate
  • Demi Wack, ASI president
  • Diane Blair, president Fresno State Chapter of the California Faculty Association
  • Wen Fa, attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation
  • Michael E. Smith, founding partner of the Lozano Smith law firm

A key goal of the Institute is to increase media literacy among news consumers. Through community engagement and outreach activities, the Institute aims to increase public knowledge, acceptance and expectations for consuming news content.

The First Amendment forum is the Institute’s first event of the semester.

“We plan to engage our experts and community members in this dialogue,” Boren said. “This is the first of many programs aimed at improving media literacy, developing strategies to fight fake news and bridging the gap between media organizations and news consumers who in many cases have lost trust in the media.”

For more information about the Institute for Media and Public Trust, call 559.278.2087.