A college newspaper editor’s attempt to gain access to previouslyclosed meetings of her student government was one of several telephone callsthat came into the Student Press Law Center on Wednesday. But it was also the10,000th legal request answered by Adam Goldstein, Attorney Advocatefor the Center.
“The state law isn’t clear on its face, but the court opinionsinterpreting it are,” said Goldstein, who has been with the SPLC since2003. “I think she’ll be able to get into those meetings again justby showing them to the student government. And if she can’t, that’swhat our Attorney Referral Network is for.”
Of the thousands of calls and e-mails that come to the SPLC seeking legalinformation every year, Goldstein answers the lion’s share, ranging fromsimple questions about using cartoon character images in high school yearbooksto delicate issues of protecting anonymous sources.
“About a dozen is a normal day during the school year. I think themost I’ve ever answered in a day was 26, but that was a day that ended atabout ten at night,” he said.
Goldstein has logged each call and e-mail in his six-year tenure, and stillremembers the first one:. “It was from a college editor in Californiafacing some administrative interference with his newspaper. If I had a nickelfor every time I’ve heard that since, we could probably stop fundraisingfor the rest of the year.”
Because he is usually the first person that users of the SPLC’sservices encounter, Goldstein and his signature all-black attire have become inmany ways the public “face” of the SPLC, said attorney Frank D.LoMonte, Executive Director of the SPLC.
“Of course, Adam’s value is not measured in quantity, but inthe consistently high satisfaction and gratitude that callers to the SPLChotline express,” LoMonte said. “The service that Adam provides isirreplaceable, and the pointers that Adam has furnished to students and teachersover the years have enabled them to intelligently protect their rights hundredsand hundreds of times.”
Goldstein’s Attorney Advocate position is made possible by fundingfrom the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Goldstein serves as theprimary staff supporting the SPLC’s Attorney Hotline, which enablesteachers and students to get immediate, free assistance with legal issues aboutcensorship, copyright, FOIA and other media-law questions. The hotline can mosteasily by reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goldstein graduated from Fordham University School of Law in May 2002. Hereceived his undergraduate degree in internet journalism from Fordham College atLincoln Center, where he was editor-in-chief of the FCLC Observer. Forthree years, Goldstein worked as a freelance producer and editor forFoxNews.com.
Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has been devoted to educating highschool and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied inthe First Amendment, and supporting the student news media in covering importantissues free from censorship. The Center provides free information andeducational materials for student journalists and their teachers on a widevariety of legal topics on its website at www.splc.org.