Event Details

Freedom of the press—enshrined in the First Amendment—is vital to the functioning of our democracy. Its critical importance increases during emergencies such as the public health crisis America currently faces. Yet journalists are encountering ongoing obstacles in covering COVID-19 and providing accurate information to the public.  Coupled with an unprecedented number of journalists being assaulted, arrested or otherwise prevented from documenting recent protests related to police violence, media is being challenged in concerning ways. 

On July 30th, student journalist Sydney Charles, Student Press Law Center Staff Attorney Sommer Ingram Dean, Advocacy Director at the Committee to Protect Journalists Courtney Radsch and co-editor of Academeblog.org John Wilson, whose 2019-2020 Center Fellowship research report “Freedom of the Press on Campus” was recently released, discussed these and other trends related to the state of press freedom both on campus and around the world during the second webinar in our “Summer Conversations on Speech” series. The conversation was moderated by Center Executive Director, Michelle Deutchman.


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Sydney Charles

Class of 2021 and Co-Editor of Campus News for The New University, University of California, Irvine

Sydney Charles is a community activist and a fourth-year award-winning journalistic student at the University of California, Irvine. Her activism is a focal point of her academic career, reflecting her passion for bringing awareness to the intersectionality of complex issues. Charles is the Co-editor of Campus News for The New University, the official newspaper of UCI, where she brings diversity and complexity to the publication, and a content writer for the marketing department at UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business. She is the co-creator of Black Fam 2.5, a student-run podcast focused on redefining the minority experience by ensuring to represent it accurately, and the president of the Lambda Sigma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Previously, Charles was a keynote speaker for the UCI Brilliant Future Campaign, was awarded the Distinguished Anteater Award by the UCI Alumni Association, and contributed to the poverty alleviation focused publication Insight Magazine. Her most recent endeavor is as a host and commentator for a summer internship with the UCI School of Humanities Marketing and Communications team. Charles is currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Literary Journalism with a minor in Criminology, Law, and Society and aspires to continue to pursue a career in journalism.

Sommer Ingram Dean

Staff Attorney, Student Press Law Center

Sommer Ingram Dean is a First Amendment lawyer who has long been passionate about students’ rights to freedom of speech and of the press. A former student journalist in high school and college, Sommer has written for the Associated Press and the Dallas Morning News, and worked as law clerk for legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg at NPR. At the Student Press Law Center, she trains student journalists around the country about their First Amendment rights. Sommer received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Courtney Radsch

Advocacy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists

Courtney C. Radsch, PhD, is advocacy director at the Committee to Protect Journalists. She serves as chief spokesperson on global press freedom issues for the organization and oversees CPJ’s engagement with the United Nations, the Internet Governance Forum, and other multilateral institutions as well as CPJ’s campaigns on behalf of journalists killed and imprisoned for their work. As a veteran journalist, researcher, and free expression advocate, she frequently writes and speaks about the intersection of media, technology, and human rights. Her book Cyberactivism and Citizen Journalism in Egypt: Digital Dissidence and Political Change was published in 2016. Prior to joining CPJ, Radsch worked for UNESCO, edited the flagship publication “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development,” and managed the Global Freedom of Expression Campaign at Freedom House. She has worked as a journalist in the United States and Middle East with Al-Arabiya, the Daily Star, and The New York Times. Radsch holds a PhD in international relations from American University. She speaks Arabic, French, and Spanish.

John Wilson

Co-editor of AcademeBlog.org;
2019-2020 Fellow

John K. Wilson is the co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ AcademeBlog.org, and the editor of the Illinois AAUP’s Illinois Academe. He has a Ph.D. in higher education from Illinois State University, and is the author of eight books, including The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on Higher Education (Duke University Press), Patriotic Correctness: Academic Freedom and Its Enemies (Paradigm Publishers), and President Trump Unveiled: Exposing the Bigoted Billionaire (OR Books).

Related Resources

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Speech Spotlight Series

Fellows Program