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False communication is talk topic

A news media specialist from Syracuse University will explore why many false communications — including fake news, campaign lies and digital deepfakes — are protected as free speech under the U.S. Constitution, on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at SUNY Cortland.

 Nina Brown, an assistant professor in the university’s Newhouse School of Public Communications will present “False Speech and the First Amendment” at 4:30 p.m. in Moffett Center, Room 115.

Nina Brown, esq.

Brown’s lecture continues SUNY Cortland’s 2022-23 Rozanne M. Brooks Lecture Series on the theme of “The Culture of Truth.” Over the last decade, ‘truth’ has seemed to become a rare resource. This year’s series investigates why truth seems so fleeting in today’s world, but also where we might find it in the most surprising places.

The series’ talks and accompanying receptions are free and open to the public.

In her talk, Brown will discuss why the First Amendment often protects false speech, even when it causes harm.

Her talk, “False Speech and the First Amendment,” will explore what constitutes false, but protected, speech and whether current U.S. law can strike the right balance in preserving free speech rights.

“Even though they are false and often harmful, these types of speech are typically protected by the First Amendment,” Brown said. “Speech need not be true to receive protection under our laws.”

She  will explore whether that is the right framework and will examine the exceptions to rules on free speech.

“We will look at the impact of social media on false speech and at efforts to regulate both despite clear constitutional protections,” she said.

A faculty member at S.U. since 2015, Brown earned her law degree from Cornell Law School. There, she served as notes editor and associate editor of the Cornell International Law Journal and Moot Court Board member. She has a B.S. in advertising from the Newhouse School.

Brown teaches both undergraduate and graduate levels from freshmen through graduate and law students and has developed or co-developed courses, including a graduate Public Relations Law course and an online law course.

Her academic research has been cited in academic articles, creative publications, and the court system.

Editors of the 2020 Entertainment, Publishing and the Arts Handbook, an anthology published annually by Thomson Reuters (West), included and described her article in Va. J. L. & Tech., 1 (2020) on “Deepfakes and the Weaponization of Disinformation,” as “one of the best law review articles related to entertainment, publishing and/or the arts published within the last year.”

Brown was selected as a Fall 2019-2020 Kopenhaver Center Faculty Fellow and earned a 2018 Meredith Teaching Recognition Award from Syracuse University. The Newhouse graduating class of 2018 presented her with its Newhouse Award for Teaching Excellence.

She placed third in 2018 and 2017 for the AEJMC Law Division Teaching Award of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

The talks all take place on Wednesdays and begin at 4:30 p.m. in Moffett Center, Room 115. Seating will be limited and cannot be exceeded so attendees should  come early to secure a seat. A reception to welcome each speaker one half hour before the talk may be announced. Events in the series are subject to change.

The 2022-23 Brooks Lecture Series is sponsored by the Cortland College Foundation and Cortland Auxiliary.

For more information, contact Brooks lecture series organizer and Brooks Museum director Sharon Steadman, a SUNY distinguished professor and chair of SUNY Cortland’s Sociology/Anthropology Department, at 607-753-2308.