Friday, October 07, 2005

Tomorrow's Program: Media Law and Developing Sources

Tomorrow you'll have a chance to experience another in a series of periodic sessions highlighting the incredible national-class (hell, world-class) writing and reporting talent we have here in the region, along with some key support services that are often invisible to the reader but nevertheless crucial to the end product. At a morning SPJ event at the Middleburg Heights library (directions below), you can hear the keynoter, Case journalism prof Ted Gup, talk about how he develops sources. This is no mean thing: Ted was something of a protege of Bob Woodward's (a tale he once recounted in GQ magazine) during their years together at the Washington Post, and so he'll have some colorful tales to tell about what it was like to be in the vicinity of the keeper of Deep Throat's secrets before that secret ended. And he'll also no doubt have a few choice remarks about the ongoing controversy over the NYT's Judy Miller and her decision to go to jail over the issue of protecting anonymous sources. Ted's writing credits go way beyond just the Post: at Time Mag, he wrote several cover stories and he now sounds off regularly in such venues as Salon.com (which just got a godawful redesign to mark its 10th birthday). Most of all, Gup spent years reporting and writing a magisterial book-length account of the many CIA agents who died in the line of service, which was quite a trick, since until his book ("The Book of Honor--Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA"), those names were not available, much less the human stories attached to them. When a nice lady named Shirley Worsmer decided to endow a professorship in journalism at Case a few years ago, a feeding frenzy for the job ensued. Ted, who had once earned a law degree from Case before going on to his life's work, and who has written so widely and so well, emerged victorious. Ever since, it's given some of us hope that Case might actually slowly develop a meaningful journalism program, to supplement the region's only fullblown such thing, way down at Kent State.

Anyway, he'll be joined by the PD's Dave Davis, reputed to be a computer-assisted reporting whiz (we'll soon see). And by two of my favorite Ken's, both attorneys. Ken Zirm of Walter & Haverfield has long been a writer-friendly expert on how to make one's journalism as lawsuit-proof as possible (he once vetted a story of mine that I'll never forget; the magazine had never published anything that needed such attention before, but, happily, agreed to retain Ken). And his friend Ken Myers, a solo practitioner who is quickly developing into the region's leading civil rights advocate on protecting freedom of expression (in one memorable case, he defended a Westlake high school kid over his online criticism of a teacher), has a unique background that helps his understanding: before and during law school at CSU, he spent years as an independent journalist, reporting regularly for local and national pubs (he was founding editor of the Free Times). I became friends with him several years ago after writing a long account of his legal battles with the Cleveland Browns, some members of which harasssed him (by throwing jocks at him in the locker room, among other things) after he wrote some stories in USA Today they didn't like. Ken, who now owns an ice cream store on Coventry in addition to pursuing his law practice, calmly sued, and his winnings were memorably converted into a remodeled kitchen in his house.


If you're free and interested, please join us. Festivities kick off at 9:30 and should wrap up by about noon. The cost is $25, and Working With Words readers can get a $5 discount. RSVP to Tom Moore at tmoore56@aol.com or call 440-333-7382. Or just plain show up and settle up at the door. Directions to the library at 15600 E. Bagley Road, Middleburg Heights: Take I-71 to the Bagley Road exit (Exit 235). At end of ramp, turntoward Middleburg Heights (left if southbound, right if northbound).Follow Bagley Road about 1/2 mile. Library is on the left at the cornerof Big Creek Parkway. To enter library, turn left onto Big Creek Parkway(note that the parkway is divided by trees, so stay to the right), and then turn left into the library driveway.

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