Veteran legal counsel Frank LoMonte will give the Future of the First Amendment Lecture at Augusta University on Tuesday, March 14.
The lecture, sponsored by Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Augusta University Libraries, will be at 6 p.m. in the Dr. Roscoe Williams Ballroom of the Jaguar Student Activities Center.
LoMonte, who is an attorney for CNN in Atlanta, will give a talk titled “Free Speech and Transparency on Campus: Lessons from the Pandemic.”
“We’re at a really precarious time for America’s information safety net,” LoMonte said. “Local newspapers are closing or hollowing out their staffs through layoffs. Government agencies are getting more and more secretive, putting up barriers to keep journalists from getting interviews with the officials who have first-hand expertise.”
LoMonte said freedom of information is not just a concern for journalists.
“It’s really important for everyone invested in a well-functioning government — not just the few salaried journalists we have left — to take ownership of the right to be informed,” he said. “I want everyone to see the freedom of access to information as their own personal cause, not a cause that belongs to news reporters, because news reporters can’t win the battle against government secrecy alone.”
LoMonte has his JD from the University of Georgia Law School. His undergraduate degree is from Georgia State University. For a while, he was a journalist for Morris Media in Augusta. He also served as executive director of the Student Press Law Center from 2008 until 2017. Before joining CNN, he was the director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida.
Other sponsors of the even include the AU Department of Communication, Bell Ringer-Phoenix Media, AU Student Chapter of SPJ and The Augusta Press newspaper.
David Bulla, PhD, chair of the Department of Communication at Augusta University, said LoMonte brings a wealth of experience in media law with him to his Augusta talk.
“Frank has been an advocate for the First Amendment for several decades,” Bulla said. “As executive director of the Student Press Law Center, he helped start the New Voices initiative, which has improved press from for student journalists at the high school level in a number of states. As director of the Brechner Center at UF, he turned his attention to the free flow of information — something we take for granted, but, despite the overwhelming amount of data available today, powers that be often block the public from vital information. Fortunately, Georgia has a fairly robust Sunshine Law, and the state also has a strong open records policy called GORA.”
The event is free and open to the public.