The State Bar Association’s Task Force on Free Expression in the Digital Age will hold a forum on libel law at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10 in Albany.  The program will be livestreamed. Click here for the livestream link.

In advance of the forum, we’re looking for examples of legal threats, especially lawsuits aimed at curbing coverage, your paper has faced or is now facing. If you have an example to share, please email me at

Here are the basics of the program from the association:

The First Amendment has long provided broad protection to publishers and broadcasters against libel suits and other legal threats. But at a time when local news outlets struggle financially and small digital publishers play a larger role in providing information to local communities, is it time to broaden those protections even further? Are the threats of litigation chilling important speech? Would changing libel laws make a difference in the kind of local journalism that gets done? Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post, one of the nation’s foremost commentators on journalism and press freedom, will discuss those issues in a conversation with media lawyer Joseph Finnerty. A panel of legal experts and journalists will then join the discussion to provide their views on how legal threats affect coverage and whether legal reform is needed.


6:00 – 6:10 p.m. Opening Remarks

6:10 – 7:00 p.m. In Conversation: Margaret Sullivan, Media Columnist, The Washington Post, with Joseph M. Finnerty, Finnerty Osterreicher & Abdulla

7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Roundtable Discussion

Cynthia Arato, Partner, Shapiro Arato Bach LLP, Task Force Co-chair; Sandra S. Baron, Resident Fellow, Yale Law School; David Donovan, President & Executive Director, New York State Broadcasters Association; Joseph M. Finnerty, Finnerty Osterreicher & Abdulla; Rex Smith, editor, Albany Times Union; Megan Meier, Clare Locke LLP

Judy Patrick

Vice president for editorial development

New York Press Association


Lockwood Law


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