On Thursday, September 28th, Hearst Corporation’s Office of General Counsel hosted a panel discussion in collaboration with AABANY and Hispanic National Bar Association – Region II, titled “The State of Play: Journalism & The Law in the Age of Trump,” which drew over 75 participants. Panelists comprised of distinguished journalists Anupreeta Das (Special Writer, The Wall Street Journal), Cristian Farias (Legal Columnist, New York Magazine) and Juan Carlos López (Anchor/Senior Correspondent, CNN en Español) as well as media lawyers Vernon Chu (General Counsel, BBC Worldwide North America), Katie Fallows (Senior Attorney, Knight First Amendment Institute) and Diego Ibarguen (First Amendment Counsel, The Hearst Corporation).

The panelists engaged in a lively discussion, which kicked off with the question from moderator, Diego Ibarguen, on whether we are in the Golden Era for journalism? Journalists discussed the benefits and challenges brought on by the burgeoning ways through which people consume news today, especially through social media. While there are many "distractions” in the media space, some journalists found that non-traditional media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs have created more context for their work and augmented their role in helping their readers parse through the facts and stories. Many of them also felt a heightened sense of responsibility to keep politicians honest and democracy alive through their work as journalists, and to steer their audience to news that they need, not necessarily what they want. Cristian also saw social media as a tool to help him develop a rapport with his readers, and to better understand and formulate his ideas before writing an article.  

Vernon offered a unique perspective coming from BBC, a London-based news organization that is not supported by advertisements and sponsorships. Even in the age of fast news, Vernon emphasized the principles of independence and integrity that run throughout BBC and their practice of vetting every piece of news before it goes live in order to maintain its reputation – especially during a time when the trustworthiness of traditional news media is being questioned.

Finally, Katie briefed the audience on the suit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute and a group of Twitter users, who claimed that President Trump’s blocking of users on his @realDonaldTrump account is unconstitutional. President Trump’s prolific use of his Twitter account has created new and interesting legal issues such as whether @realDonaldTrump is considered a “public forum” under the First Amendment such that President Trump cannot exclude people from participating because of their viewpoints.

The event ended with questions from a number of audience members and with attendees mingling over wine and canapés on the 44th Floor of the Hearst Tower.  

We want to thank Hearst’s General Counsel, Eve Burton, for hosting the panel and cocktail reception, and to Diego Ibarguen for skillfully moderating this informative and engaging discussion.  Special thanks also go to Adam Colón, Andrea Chui and Marianne Chow Newman at Hearst and to Evelyn Perez-Albino and Matt Fernandez Konigsberg at HNBA – Region II for helping to organize this successful event!

(Thanks to Hearst and Kevin Hsi for the photos.)