September 07, 2006

Forum brings together public officials, journalists

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will bring together public officials and journalists to discuss their volatile relationship during these changing times.

"Public Officials, the Media and the Public Interest" is set for 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, in the SIUC Student Center Ballroom D.

"This conference presents a rare opportunity for journalists and the people they cover to have a reasonable, enlightening discussion of issues that often bring them into conflict," institute Director Mike Lawrence said.

Panelists will present a daylong forum on the Open Meetings and Freedom of Information acts. The program will feature some of the state's leading authorities on the topics as well as those who deal with them daily on a local level.

Speakers will explain how the two acts work, how they affect public officials and why the media rely on them as they cover government at work. The program will also explore ways public officials and the media might work together to assure proper access given the concerns of public officials and the constraints upon them.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public. The full schedule follows:

• 9 a.m.: Welcoming remarks and introductions by institute Director Mike Lawrence

• 9:15 a.m.: Panel 1 - Open Meetings and Open Records: A Broad Overview. William H. Freivogel, interim director of SIUC's School of Journalism, will serve as moderator. Panelists are: Beth Bennett, director of government relations, Illinois Press Association; Larry Frang, assistant director, Illinois Municipal League; Michael D. Johnson, executive director, Illinois Association of School Boards; and Terry Mutchler, public access counselor, Illinois Attorney General's Office.

• 10:45 a.m.: Panel 2 - Public Officials and Local Reporters: A Working Relationship. Freivogel will serve as moderator. Panelists are: James Bennett, editor, Southern Illinoisan; Adam Jadhav, reporter, St. Louis Post Dispatch; Vic Ritter, mayor, Herrin, Ill.; Nancy Stemper, president, Carbondale Elementary School Board.


• Noon: Complimentary buffet lunch (advance registration required*)

• 1:15 p.m.: Panel 3 - Police and the Media. Freivogel will serve as moderator. Panelists are: Jeff Birkbigler, city attorney, Carbondale, Ill.; David Bradford, chief of police, Village of Glen Carbon, Ill.; James D. Kelly, associate professor, SIUC School of Journalism; Benjamin A. Lipman, attorney, Lewis, Rice & Fingersh; and Becky Malkovich, reporter, Southern Illinoisan.

• 2:30 p.m.: Concluding remarks by Mike Lawrence.

To register for the luncheon, please contact institute project coordinator Christina L. Rich at 618/453-4078 or by Sept. 15.

Serving others is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.