LAWRENCE – A prominent media lawyer from Washington, D.C., will discuss “Whistleblowers, Reporter Surveillance and the First Amendment” on Constitution Day, Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the University of Kansas School of Law.
Invited journalists, lawyers, students and others will attend the discussion by Charles D. “Chuck” Tobin. In addition, members of the Kansas Press Association, Kansas Association of Broadcasters and Kansas Bar Association from around the state who do not attend in person may engage with Tobin via conference call or Twitter.
Tobin will speak and answer questions about recent controversies over the media’s publication of leaked government secrets and the government’s secret monitoring of reporters’ emails and phone calls.
Pam Fine, a KU journalism professor and Knight Chair for News, Leadership and Community, will moderate the discussion, which will be from 1:45 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. in the Rice Room on the fifth floor of the law school, 1535 W. 15th St.
Journalists interested in participating via conference call may contact Mindie Paget by email at or 785-864-9205 to reserve a spot and receive call instructions. Those who wish to submit questions and follow along on Twitter may use the hash tag #whistlelaw.
Before the discussion, Tobin will speak to an assembly of KU law students during a noon forum. There, he will focus on “the history of whistleblowers and journalists’ sources such as Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning and their impact on news reporting in the digital age.” Snowden has been at the center of worldwide controversy for leaking secrets he collected as a National Security Agency contractor, and Manning gained global notoriety for disseminating classified documents he acquired as a U.S. Army intelligence analyst.
A video recording of Tobin’s remarks to students during the Sept. 17 noon forum will be available online the following day for viewing by interested members of the Kansas Bar Association, Kansas Press Association, Kansas Association of Broadcasters and others.
Tobin is an experienced litigator who has dealt with First Amendment matters while representing media clients in state and federal trial and appellate courts around the country. He chairs the national media practice team for the Holland & Knight law firm in Washington, D.C., and is the immediate past chair of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Communications Law. He also advises news organizations on how to respond to subpoenas and gain access to government meetings and records, represents media defendants in libel and privacy lawsuits, and handles a wide range of other legal matters relating to the editorial content of newspapers and broadcasts.
Before joining Holland & Knight, where he is a partner, Tobin served as in-house counsel at the headquarters of Gannett Co., which publishes USA TODAY and owns media outlets across the country. A former journalist, Tobin writes on First Amendment issues, and his articles for the ABA’s Communications Lawyer include “OMG! ‘Twibel’ Claims? R U 4 Real?” and “First Amendment Caste System.” Tobin also speaks on First Amendment topics, including most recently a talk on “Legal Issues Arising from Social Media” to the national Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Tobin’s visit to KU is sponsored by KU’s law student chapter of the American Constitution Society, with support from the Kansas Bar Association and its Media Bar Committee, as well as the Media, Law and Technology program at the School of Law.