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Panel Explores Coverage of High-Profile Litigation

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September 12, 2006 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

CHICAGO --- A panel discussion at Northwestern University School of Law will involve leading journalists, lawyers and academics in robust dialogue about high-profile litigation, exploring inherent tensions between journalists and corporate defendants and ways to serve the interests of both.

“Who is the Finder of Fact in High-Profile Litigation?: A Critical Analysis of the Privilege of Counsel and Journalist” will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, in the School of Law's Lincoln Hall, 357 E. Chicago Ave. The discussion is sponsored by the School of Law and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern.

Is high-profile litigation tried more in the court of public opinion than in the court of law? How is media coverage affected by counsel, who tend not to talk to the press when their companies are involved in litigation or any high-profile, contentious issues? How is public opinion shaped when reporters are the only ones talking publicly, before any ruling on facts, about passion-provoking cases? Are corporate defendants too quick to criticize the watchdogs' reporting of wrongdoing that is necessary for a free press and corporate accountability? What are the options when the press gets it wrong? 

“The conference will challenge lawyers and companies to be more communicative and reporters to acknowledge their responsibilities in reporting inflammatory and salacious complaints about corporate defendants,” said Harlan Loeb, adjunct professor at the School of Law and litigation practice director, Financial Dynamics Business Communication.

The moderators will be Northwestern's Martin Redish, the Louis and Harriet Ancel Professor of Law and Public Policy at the School of Law and a nationally renowned authority on freedom of expression and constitutional law, and Mindy Trossman, assistant professor and director of Medill News, Chicago, Medill School of Journalism.

The panelists will include: David Barstow, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for the New York Times; Harlan Loeb; Larry Yellen, investigative reporter and legal analyst, Fox News Chicago; Jerry Krulewitch, senior vice president and general counsel of the Americas, McDonald's Corporation; Julia Hood, editor-in-chief, PRWeek; and John J. Ray III, chairman of the board and president, Enron Corporation.

Topics: Campus Life