In 2020, SPLC launched the Summer Media Law & Policy Institute, a three-week online training institute which explores the legal framework and emerging issues of law, ethics and policy surrounding media law and press freedom. The Institute ran online from June 22 – July 10, 2020.
Moot court competition
The SPLC Summer Media Law & Policy Institute came to a close after 3 weeks full of learning and collaboration, culminating in an exciting moot court competition. Students were asked to evaluate whether a public university violated the First Amendment rights of two student journalists when they attempted to cover a story on campus.
The students had to write a 10-page brief on the issues and compete in several rounds of oral argument before media law practitioners and judges. We cannot thank our final round judges enough for their time and talent.
- Best Oralist – First Round: Betty Kim
- Runner-up Oralists (tie) First Round – Francesca Campione and Anysa Hernandez
- Best Oralist – Semi-Final Round: Caitlin Oh
- Runner-up Oralist – Semi: Final Round: Betty Kim
- Best Oralist – Final Round: Shontee Pant
- Runner-up Oralist – Final Round: Megha Dharla
- Best Brief: Team 3 (Megha Dharla, Henry Glitz, Caitlin Oh)
- Overall Winner: Team 1 (Natalie Fitts, Julian McCarthy, Shontee Pant)
Congratulations to our final round winners, Julian McCarthy, Shontee Pant, and Natalie Fitts! All of our participants worked incredibly hard, and we are so proud of you.
Final round judges:
- The Honorable Judge James Ho, Fifth Circuit
- The Honorable Justice Carla Wong McMillian, Supreme Court of Georgia
- The Honorable Judge Laurie J. Michelson, Eastern District, Michigan
- Prof. Frank LoMonte, Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, Univ. of Florida
- Matthew Schafer, ViacomCBS/Media Law Resource Center Young Lawyers Division
Special thanks to the six volunteer coaches who took time out of their busy media law practices to work with the teams on their briefs and oral arguments:
- Ava Lubell
- Sarah Brewerton-Palmer
- Shaina Ward
- Amanda Reid
- Wesley Lewis
- Michael Lambert
We are also deeply grateful to the nineteen attorneys who served as judges for the various rounds of the competition. Not only were they excellent judges, but they took the time to provide valuable feedback and mentoring to Institute participants.
Meet the summer 2020 participants
Hello, my name is Ebehimalen Aboiralor, I am Nigerian-American and I live in Gardena, California. I attended California State University, Fullerton, for my undergraduate degree in Communications with an emphasis in broadcast journalism and a minor in political science. During my time in undergrad, I was in courses that focused on media production and advertising but I also took classes that pertained to media and communications law specifically. The communications and media law classes sparked my interest and inspired me to pursue law school after I graduate with my undergraduate degree. Since then, I have been looking for opportunities to further explore media and communications law such as taking on a research assistant position under the Communications department that pertained to libel law suits within the #Metoo movement.
Francesca Campione is a 2020 graduate of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. She was born and raised in Queens, New York and received a BA in journalism from Stony Brook University on Long Island. Since her freshman year of college when she took a course in media law with Carolyn Levin she knew she wanted to become a media lawyer. Her goal is now seven years in the making. She is passionate about the work journalists do and is interested in the way the law is adapting to emerging forms of reporting.
My name is Yeshesvini Chandar. An Indian, Australian and Kiwi, I like to think of myself as a Cal alumni for my formative training as an exchange student (who lingered on for more) at Berkeley which helped shape me for the person I am today. I trained as a Biochemical Engineer and have worked in diverse roles across industries in New Zealand, Australia, India and California. At Berkeley, I almost dropped out to be an entrepreneur and then went on to be a social entrepreneur in India years later. That spirit stayed on as I took a mid-career decision to move back countries and take the plunge for law school hoping to train as a technology lawyer. Through my recent exposures at law school, I have finally found my calling after meandering for many years in my professional life. I am passionately driven to practice at the interstice of media and technology law and am especially interested in privacy issues. I hope to harness my technical background and training for interdisciplinary practice interlacing issues that emerge as technologies like AI begin to disrupt the content-generation business and press again individual rights of privacy.
My name is Sam Dangremond. I am a third-year law student at Fordham University, from which I received an M.B.A. this past May. I am working as a summer associate at Hughes Hubbard & Reed this summer. Before graduate school, I was a writer and editor at several publications, including New York magazine, The Daily Beast, and Town & Country. I grew up in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and completed the Columbia Publishing Course. After law school, I hope to work as a media lawyer.
My name is Megha Dharia and I am from Jersey City, New Jersey. As an undergraduate student at NYU, I had the opportunity to intern at MSNBC and gained a strong passion for journalism. I brought that passion to Fordham Law School, where I took various classes in First Amendment and Media Law and founded the Press Law Society, a student organization dedicated to press and media law.
My name is Adrian Dubose. I am a caring person with a great sense of humor. I like helping people and I’m a hard worker. I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana. The reason I’m interested in media law is because I’m interested in the entertainment industry and becoming a lawyer.
Hello! My name is Caroline Dudlak and I am a senior at Northwestern University. I was born and raised in the Chicagoland area and I hope to attend law school after graduation. As a journalism student, I have always been interested in how our profession is changing in the age of big tech, social media and the Internet. With these new realities, anyone can become a “journalist”. This arguably does wonders for democracy, but opens up a host of questions about law and ethics as technology can be a vehicle for the spread of misinformation, censorship and propaganda. My interests lie in how to reinforce public trust in journalism, as well as strengthen the market for journalism, in a changing technological landscape.
I’m Natalie Fitts, originally from Kansas City, Missouri. I majored in Journalism at the University of Missouri. I moved to Colorado to attend law school. I am hoping to create a career that allows me to combine my love of journalism and media with my love of the law.
My name is Henry Glitz, and I’m currently a rising 3L at UC Irvine Law in Orange County, California. I’m originally from Pittsburgh, where I attended undergrad and first gained an exposure to journalism while working on the student daily paper there. After graduation, I headed straight to law school with the goal of ending up getting to do work both for more traditional press outlets and less conventional content creators as well. Since then, I’ve been able to pursue that goal in a variety of ways, from working to stop retaliatory litigation against an investigative blogger in the OC to helping a Netflix documentary filmmaker unseal government records that were key to his story.
I am Anysa Hernandez, a first-generation college student from Dallas, Texas. Growing up, I was never encouraged to pursue a higher education, and even now, I struggle balancing my responsibilities between my family and school. I aspire to be more formally educated, though, because I want to make a difference in the world. I am hoping to pursue media law to actively work in the field someday, but I also want to understand how surveillance intersects with race and culture in hopes of being able to study that later down the road. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m ready to work hard.
I’m Sarah Knarzer, and while I go to law school in D.C. at American University Washington College of Law, I call Richmond, VA, my home. I am an avid consumer of all media, especially podcasts, NPR, television shows, news, etc. I am particularly interested in news production and the balance between confidentiality and free accessible information, two things I got to witness first hand as an intern with NPR this past spring. I think Media Law is especially important now when we depend on our media sources for trustworthy information regarding our health and safety. When I’m not in school, I like to cook, kick box, and spend time with my Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is my cat.
My name is Julian McCarthy, and I’m from Bronxville New York. I’m a rising senior at Emory University, majoring in media studies and minoring in political science. I’m interested in media law because we are living in a time where reporting the news has never been more important. I think that having an understanding of media law is essential if you want to work in journalism. I want to be a part of protecting our free press and free speech for the sanctity of our democracy.
Shontee Pant graduated in May 2020 from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. She is originally from Dallas, Texas though she has lived all over the U.S.; in fact, she was never with the same classmates two years in a row until her freshman year of high school. Shontee ran cross country and track in college and then worked as a congressional staffer in D.C. prior to law school. She has written for The Christian Science Monitor and NPR, while serving as NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg’s law clerk during the fall of 2019. Media law matters to her because she recognizes the critical role journalists and the media play in informing public thought, perception, and understanding, in turn leading to action, results, and change. Shontee has worked for Davis Wright Tremaine LLP as a Summer Associate in both New York City and Seattle, focusing primarily on media and First Amendment litigation, and she plans to devote her career to media law following her clerkship on the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in St. Paul, beginning in August 2020.
My name is Jayme Sileo, and I am an undergraduate senior studying journalism. I am from Boulder City, Nevada, but I am currently attending college in Reno, Nevada. I have only begun learning about media law, but it has been endlessly fascinating. As a journalist, I am interested in how I can support my colleagues and inform the public by advancing my knowledge of media law. On a personal note, I find the overlap of journalism and law to be a riveting topic that I look forward to learning more about.
My name is Brendan Stautberg, and I’m a rising 2L at the George Washington University Law School, hailing from outside of Philadelphia. I’ve been interested in media law since my time at the University of Pittsburgh, where I co-founded a student-run political media outlet called The Bully PulPitt. I’ve interned in the U.S. Senate and, more recently, with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press as part of its Technology & Press Freedom Project. That experience last summer cemented my interest in media law and data & tech policy, and I’m excited to further explore that arena this summer.
My name is Caitlin Oh. I am an incoming law student at Emory University. I am a first-generation American originally from Marietta, Georgia and recently graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in Psychology with a Neuroscience Emphasis and Public Relations. I hope to offer my insights learned throughout my life and education to promote thought-leadership and invoke conversations that might otherwise go untouched. I love the complexity and breadth that media law offers. I am excited to dive into the intricacies of the laws, policies, and cases that the field provides. I am also interested to see how growing technology and the increasing focus on the media will impact communication and media law in the future.
My name is Austin Vining, and I’m a rising fifth-year JD/PhD student at the University of Florida. I’m a first-generation college student hailing from Doyline, a rural village in Louisiana. After college, I spent two years working as a journalist, and I’ve interned with U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. At the University of Florida, I serve as a graduate research fellow for the Brechner First Amendment Project where I assist with media law research. I am passionate about journalism and the law, and I hope to make a career out of advancing both fields.
My name is Betty Kim and I am a rising 3L at UC Irvine School of Law. I grew up in Seoul, South Korea and Scottsdale, Arizona before attending Brown University to study International Relations. I have been drawn to intersections of media law and the First Amendment by working in my law school’s intellectual property clinic on press freedom issues. I also look forward to exploring ways to reform media law that reflects developments in social media and technology.