First Amendment, Journalism Speakers Announced for Free Speech Week Panel Discussion in Portland

As part of its Free Speech Week celebration later this month, a group of constitutional advocates and media organizations are hosting a panel discussion to explore the future of the First Amendment.

Free Speech Week — celebrated this year Oct. 22-28 — is a national campaign to increase awareness of free speech and its value in a democracy. During the week, individuals, schools and organizations throughout the country host events, exercise their free speech rights and highlight the importance of the First Amendment.

The New England First Amendment Coalition, the First Amendment Museum at the Gannett House, Portland Media Center, and WMPG are working together to provide a local week-long celebration of free speech, concluding with a panel discussion at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Portland Media Center, 516 Congress Street in Portland.

The discussion is free and open to the public. Speakers include:

ELLEN ALDERMAN, Attorney and Author | Alderman is a former entertainment attorney who has written extensively about civil rights. She is the co-author, with Caroline Kennedy, of two books about the Constitution, “In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action” and “The Right to Privacy,” as well as the author of articles on a variety of civil rights topics. She most recently worked as a Voter Protection Attorney in Maine and is currently the head of the Maine State Suffrage Centennial Commemoration.

CHET LUNNER, Former Journalist, Political Consultant | A former national news correspondent and retired federal executive, Lunner has a 360-degree perspective on the First Amendment from both sides of the camera. He has been a Maine newspaper editor, U.S. Congressional chief of staff, USA Today national news correspondent, Cabinet-level press secretary, and political campaign manager. As a reporter, he covered Capitol Hill, the White House, NASA, the Pentagon and breaking news nationwide. As a press secretary he coordinated media relations, press releases, news conferences, and speeches including strategic response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

DANIEL PANICI, Professor at University of Southern Maine | Panici primarily teaches mass media and mass communication courses. He has published numerous articles on a wide variety of mass communication topics including college radio and television, new media use in classroom, media education, service learning, and writing strategies for media. Panici also serves on the Editorial Board for the journal Mass Communication and Society and reviews manuscripts for the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media.

BENJAMIN S. PIPER, Attorney at Preti Flaherty LLP | Piper’s media practice includes representation of the news media in First Amendment, defamation and privacy, and freedom of information matters. Before joining Preti Flaherty, Piper served as law clerk to the Honorable John A. Woodcock, Jr. at the United States District Court, District of Maine. While in law school at the University of Wisconsin Law School, he served as Managing Editor of the Wisconsin International Law Journal.

MATTHEW STORIN, Former Journalist and Editor (moderator) | Storin was editor of The Boston Globe from 1992 to 2001. He began his journalism career at the Daily News in Springfield, Mass., and later joined the Globe’s newsroom, covering Congress and the White House and serving as city editor and Asian bureau chief during his first 16 years at the newspaper. He also worked at U.S. News and World Report, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Maine Times. He now lives in Camden, Maine.

All members of the public are also invited to attend an open house at 4 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the First Amendment Museum, 184 State Street in Augusta. The open house will present a unique opportunity for conversations on current issues pertaining to political speech, the internet, student speech and symbolic expression. The museum will feature topic-specific rooms featuring local experts and community members.

During Free Speech Week, Portland Media Center and WMPG will be airing interviews with various Maine residents about what free speech means to them and how the First Amendment right can best be exercised.

For more information please contact the following:

Dale Robin Goodman

Rebecca Lazure
First Amendment Museum
at the Gannett House

Lesley MacVane
Portland Media Center
207.775.2900 x200

Justin Silverman
New England First Amendment Coalition

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, The Boston Globe, WBUR and Boston University.