Public Events


Public Events

FAC holds live and virtual events to tackle some of the most pressing free speech, free press and government transparency issues of the day. Events are free, on-the-record and open to all.



Know Your Rights: A Webinar Series by the First Amendment Coalition and Exhaling Justice

This three-part series includes:

Exposing Injustices Through Public Records
In this session, open-government experts will offer an introduction to the California Public Records Act, and tips for using public records to expose injustices and hold public officials accountable. Watch Now >>

Protesting Injustices Through Demonstrations
This session covers legal protections and limitations for engaging in protest activity, and practical tips for documenting and protesting police in public. Watch Now >>

Stopping Injustices Through Public Meetings
In this session, open-government experts will offer an introduction to the Ralph M. Brown Act, California’s main open meetings law. Watch Now >>

Press Rights 101: Understand Your Newsgathering Rights And Limitations In California

April 23, 2022

A special training session designed for journalists on legal protections and practical considerations for covering protests, filming police in the field and more. The session was led by media lawyer and press advocate Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel of the National Press Photographers Association.

Accessing Police Misconduct Records In California

Oct. 20, 2021

Featuring KQED’s ‘On Our Watch’ Journalists and Leading Open-Government Attorneys. A look into the “On Our Watch” podcast and how journalists, activists and citizens can access public records to uncover misconduct and details about deadly encounters with the public. Learn firsthand from the creators of the KQED and NPR podcast On Our Watch how this work led to the show. Get behind the scenes insight on the legal battles from the lawyers who fought them, and learn how to request and use police records to hold California agencies accountable.

Media Leak Investigations and the First Amendment

July 13, 2021

Recent revelations the U.S. Justice Department under President Trump secretly sought the phone and email records of several reporters has raised new concerns about press independence.

FAC’s David Snyder interviewed national security reporters Ellen Nakashima and Charlie Savage, and press-freedom advocate Gabe Rottman about the media leak investigations, the Espionage Act, the importance of protecting confidential sources, and federal policies regarding seizure of journalists’ records. Presented jointly with First Amendment Watch of New York University. Read a recap >>

Trial Over George Floyd Killing | A Discussion About Open Courts & Racial Justice

March 24, 2021

The trial of a former police officer charged in George Floyd’s death is being broadcast live, allowing the public to determine for themselves if what is taking place is just and fair.

FAC and First Amendment Watch at New York University teamed up to present a special discussion on how the First Amendment’s promise of public trials is playing out in an American courtroom amid the pandemic.

Sunshine Week 2021: Inside the Fight For Public Information

March 18, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has made accessing public information more challenging than ever, with some governments refusing to even respond to requests for public records. Yet news organizations continue to  break through barriers to open government to keep their communities informed. Hear from journalists and open-government advocates about how they combatted government secrecy to tell important stories.

A Conversation with Dean Erwin Chemerinsky on the Capitol Riot,Trump, Twitter and the Limits of Free Speech

Jan. 14, 2021

The Capitol riot and its aftermath raise a host of questions. Was Trump’s speech protected? When does political protest cross the line into unlawful behavior? Meanwhile, social-media platforms have taken unprecedented steps to silence speakers, including Trump. What are the implications of this crackdown for free expression generally?

The First Amendment Under Fire: What the Protests of 2020 Can Teach Us About Free Expression, Public Safety and Policing

October 28, 2020

How does a community balance First Amendment rights with public safety? FAC joined with San Jose Spotlight for a dynamic discussion between policymakers, activists and legal experts, diving deep into the movement for racial justice, recent legislative proposals to increase police accountability and the clashes between law enforcement and those engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment.

Live from the Internet: It's SCOTUS | Accessing Courts in a Post Pandemic World

May 20, 2020

The pandemic forced courts around the county, including the U.S. Supreme Court, to adopt new ways to make their proceedings public. What can be learned from this time of experimentation, including trials by Zoom? What might the future of electronic court access look like post pandemic? Featuring U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel (ret.), executive director of the Berkeley Judicial Institute, in conversation with FAC’s David Snyder.

Journalist Shield Law Workshop

June 2, 2020

Our Shield Law Workshop for journalists provides an overview of California and federal laws that help reporters protect their confidential sources and unpublished newsgathering materials. The 90-minute session includes presentations by Aaron Field, media lawyer, Cannata O’Toole Fickes & Olson, and Victoria Baranetsky, general counsel, the Center for Investigative Reporting, along with an interview with Ryan Mac, a senior technology reporter at Buzzfeed, who was targeted by subpoenas related to his work in 2019. Presented by FAC and the Freedom of Information Committee of SPJ NorCal.


Accessing Public Meetings in California During the COVID-19 Crisis

April 30, 2020

This panel explored how public access to and participation in government meetings changed amid the coronavirus pandemic, as some provisions of open-meetings laws in California were loosened. FAC Litigation Director Glen Smith, Berkeleyside’s Emilie Raguso, SPJ NorCal Vice President Joe FItzgerald Rodriguez, and League of Women Voters California’s Gloria Chun Hoo discussed what the public gained and lost as meetings went virtual.


Fighting for Public Records in California Amid the Pandemic

April 16, 2020

This program focuses on how governments responded to their obligations under the California Public Records Act amid the pandemic. Panelists provide tips for overcoming barriers to accessing public information. The discussion features media lawyers and reporters who published accountability journalism using public records amid the pandemic. Co-hosted by SPJ NorCal.

Panelists: FAC Litigation Director Glen Smith, who joined and former California Public Utilities Commission President Loretta Lynch and journalist Seth Rosenfeld

Uber and Lyft Riders: Is the State Keeping You Safe?

Feb. 20, 2020

 The Public Press and FAC recently hosted an event featuring FAC’s Litigation Director Glen Smith, who joined journalist Seth Rosenfeld and former California Public Utilities Commission President Loretta Lynch for a discussion about what the lack of transparency means for the public. Listen to the full program on San Francisco Public Press’ Civic Podcast

California vs. The First Amendment

Dec. 5, 2019

Forget Trump. Golden State governments were behind an unrelenting series of affronts to the First Amendment in 2019. Police went after a journalist’s sources with a sledgehammer. The state attorney general threatened to prosecute reporters and fought in court to weaken the state’s new police accountability law. And a series of decisions at the local level ran afoul of free speech and open-government principles.
Join us for a Digital Townsquare

The Future of Online Speech In An Age of Hyperpartisanship

Oct. 10, 2019

Social media platforms face intense and growing pressure to rein in misinformation and extremist content. On the left, presidential candidates are threatening to break up Big Tech while the right has pushed to alter Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a foundation of the modern Internet. With the tech giants facing a nearly impossible balancing act, will free speech suffer? Has it already? 


What Happened to The ‘Golden Age of Free Speech’?

Dec. 6, 2018

A conversation that explores how to promote and protect free expression in this environment. What role should the new “gatekeepers”—Google, Twitter and Facebook—play? What ways can people sort through the chaos to find reliable information? How can we protect the rights and values guaranteed by the First Amendment in an era when public speech has essentially become privatized?

Oct. 3, 2018

FAC joined with KQED Public Radio and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism to host a candid conversation among both reporters and observers, who will reflected on how we got here, what responsible journalism’s response to Trump’s rhetoric should be, and most importantly, what journalists can do now to combat the anti-press agenda and restore public trust in the post-truth age.

July 17, 2018

FAC, Bloomberg and Electronic Frontier Foundation hosted a discussion regarding the future of free speech when private companies like tech giants Google, Facebook, and Twitter are charged with policing communications on the Internet?  Since the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private companies, they’re left to decide for themselves what to allow and what to censor.

Fact or Fiction?: How to Combat Disinformation in the Digital Age

May 10, 2018

FAC, New America and Slate’s Future Tense met in Washington DC to address the First Amendment challenges that arise when policymakers call for limits on speech and greater involvement by tech companies in policing online content. Are these steps the answer? Or should we be developing a long-term strategy for educating Americans and honing their media literacy skills.