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KNOXVILLE — What constraints hinder attorneys, law enforcement people and journalists from fully explaining what’s going on during a lengthy criminal trial? Should the system be changed so the public can get more information?

These are just a few of the issues that will be discussed during a conference called “Justice, Media and the People’s Right to Know: Inherent Tensions and Practical Implications in a Free Society” that will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Friday, April 1, in the Toyota Auditorium at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, 1640 Cumberland Ave.

The conference will explore ways to access and disseminate information in order to build trust and confidence in government and a free press.

The keynote speaker, Alex S. Jones, a native East Tennessean and director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, will present during lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jones covered the press for The New York Times from 1983 to 1992 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

“This program will prove valuable for both journalists and the general public,” said Baker Center Director Carl Pierce. “Citizens can gain an understanding of our criminal justice system and learn what government information is available to them and how to get that information. It also could serve as a ‘law school for journalists,’ emphasizing news coverage of law enforcement and courts and all beats that draw on public records and meetings.”

The conference will provide public records administrators information about the latest state policies for dealing with record requests, such as how to respond to citizens’ requests for government records housed in their offices and how to differentiate between public and confidential records.

Other speakers and panelists include experts in law enforcement, criminal and civil court procedures, state laws on open meetings and records, as well as experienced journalists who cover governmental affairs present.

Attendance is free and open to the public, but registration is required by March 25 or until space is full. To register for the conference and relevant sessions, click here. Review a draft agenda  here.

This program is sponsored by the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists and the Baker Center.

Additional support comes from the UT College of Law, the Society of Professional Journalists’ national and Region 12 offices, UT political science department, UT American studies interdisciplinary program, UT School of Journalism and Electronic Media/College of Communication and Information, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the E. W. Scripps Co. and the Tennessee Press Association Foundation.

Parking is available for a fee in the Carolyn P. Brown University Center parking garage on Phillip Fulmer Way.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Gibson, Baker Center, (, 865-974-3816).