2023 Missouri Law Review Symposium

Register now for the 2023 Missouri Law Review Symposium: "What if New York Times v. Sullivan is Next? The Future of Journalism and Defamation Law" held in the Smith Forum at the Reynolds Journalism Institute on the University of Missouri campus.

March 10, 2023


Concerned about the “proliferation of falsehoods,” at least two Supreme Court Justices want the Court to reconsider the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan decision and its protections of media outlets. This symposium brings together experts in both law and journalism to forecast potential changes to the Court’s jurisprudence, defamation law, and journalism.  

What should we expect from the Supreme Court? What possible legal responses, in terms of common law and statutory creativity, might we see in the wake of a Supreme Court decision restricting or eliminating Sullivan’s expansive protections for free expression?” How will newsroom practices change if, for example, the public figure doctrine is narrowed, or the actual malice standard is changed? Will we see distinctive issues related to social media?  

The ALI’s Restatement (Third) of Torts: Defamation Law is currently in progress: if the Court limits Sullivan’s protections, how should that affect the Restatement (Third)’s content? In addition to Sullivan’s future, what other issues should the reporters consider and address?  

Please join the Missouri Law Review, the University of Missouri School of Law and the Reynolds Journalism Institute for these discussions crucial to our democracy. 

About the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute 

RJI was launched in 2004 with a grant of $31 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. In conjunction with the centennial celebration of the Missouri School of Journalism, RJI’s headquarters were opened in September 2008. This 50,000 square-foot facility on the University of Missouri campus has state-of-the-art resources to test and demonstrate new technologies, experiment with new approaches to producing, designing and delivering news, information and advertising, and to host conferences that can be live-streamed around the world. RJI’s work crosses diverse specialties within journalism, including media convergence, editorial content and methods, the evolution of advertising, innovation in management and the impact of new technologies. It also includes varied fields on campus such as law, computer science, marketing, education and other disciplines. In 2012, the Foundation awarded RJI a $30.1 million endowment gift to guarantee permanent funding to pursue innovation, collaboration and research in media industries. 

About the Missouri Law Review

The Missouri Law Review was first published in 1936, making it one of the oldest legal publications west of the Mississippi River. The Law Review is published quarterly by the University of Missouri School of Law. The Missouri Law Review is an entirely student-run publication.


What if New York Times v. Sullivan is Next? The Future of Journalism and Defamation Law”

Smith Forum, Reynolds Journalism Institute

8:45 a.m. Welcome

Paul Litton
Interim Dean and R. B. Price Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law

David Kurpius
Dean, Missouri School of Journalism 

9:00 a.m. Law Panel 

Alexandra Gutierrez
Associate, Williams & Connolly LLP 

Amy Sanders
Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism and Media 

Matt Schafer 
Adjunct Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law 

Ryan Snyder
Associate Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law 

10:15 a.m. Break 

10:30 a.m. Journalism Panel 

Leita Walker
Partner, Ballard Spahr LLP

Eriq Gardner
Founding Partner and National Correspondent, Puck 

Rod Hicks
Director of Ethics and Diversity, Society of Professional Journalists 

Frank LoMonte
Counsel, CNN 

11:45 a.m. Lunch Break 

1:00 p.m. Earl F. Nelson Lecture 

Keynote: Lyrissa Lidsky
Raymond & Miriam Ehrlich Chair in U.S. Constitutional Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law 

2:00 p.m. Break 

2:15 p.m. Social Media Panel 

Frank LoMonte
Counsel, CNN 

Jasmine McNealy
Associate Professor, Department of Media Production, Management, and Technology, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications 

James Daire
Associate Director of Legal, Yelp Inc. 

Lyrissa Lidsky
Raymond & Miriam Ehrlich Chair in U.S. Constitutional Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law 


Eriq Gardner is a founding partner at Puck News, a journalist-owned startup that launched in September 2021. For Puck, he writes a weekly newsletter called The Rainmaker and regularly appears on the outlet’s signature podcast, “The Powers That Be.” Prior to joining Puck, he served as a senior editor in various capacities at The Hollywood Reporter where he oversaw the publication’s lauded and influential legal coverage. A graduate of Northwestern University, Gardner has also been a contributor at Bloomberg, Slate, New York Magazine, and The American Lawyer, and has frequently provided legal analysis on NBC’s “Today Show” and MSNBC. He’s currently working on his first book —  a look at how the law has influenced the development of popular music.


Rod Hicks is Director of Ethics and Diversity at the Society of Professional Journalists. He creates projects, conducts training, gives speeches, writes stories and answers questions from reporters and editors on deadline about the need to for journalists to adhere to high ethical standards and produce stories inclusive of the entire community.  

In his previous role at SPJ, he addressed dwindling trust in the news media. In 2019, Hicks conducted a six-month media trust project in Casper, Wyoming, where he created regular forums for the three dozen participants. The project included discussions about their skepticism of news reporting, presentations on topics such as how to discern news from other types of information, interactions with local and national journalists and newsroom tours. 

Before joining SPJ, Hicks served as an editor for The Associated Press in Philadelphia, where he helped manage news coverage in 10 northeastern states, and previously held editing positions at newspapers in Missouri, Michigan, New Jersey and Alabama. He managed the St. Louis Post-Dispatch news operation at night and played a key role in its coverage of a city hall mass shooting that was a finalist for a 2009 Pulitzer Prize. He served as a Pulitzer Prize juror in 2020 and 2021. 

Hicks holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree in newspaper management from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. 


Frank LoMonte joined CNN as in-house legal counsel in 2022 after four years directing the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, an open-government think-tank at the University of Florida. For nearly 10 years, he served as executive director of the nonprofit Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C., training and advising journalism students and educators about their legal rights. He is a 2000 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, where he has served as a distinguished visiting professor and is currently an adjunct law professor. He clerked for federal judges on the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and the Northern District of Georgia, and practiced with Atlanta-based Sutherland LLP. Before becoming a lawyer, he worked as a reporter, editor and political columnist for daily newspapers in Florida and Georgia.  


Amy Kristin Sanders is an award-winning former journalist, licensed attorney, and associate professor in the School of Journalism and Media. She is also an associate professor of law (by courtesy) at the School of Law and was selected as the first female editor of Communication Law and Policy. Before joining the UT-Austin faculty, she taught at Northwestern University’s campus in Doha, Qatar. Prior to that, she earned tenure at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the intersection of law and new technology as it relates to freedom of expression. Specifically, she focuses on international and comparative media law and ethics issues, including media freedom, access to information and government transparency, freedom of speech, and social media and emerging technologies. 

Sanders has authored more than two dozen scholarly articles in numerous law reviews and mass communication journals, including the Georgia Law Review, Tulane Law Review, the Journal of International Media & Entertainment Law, Federal Communication Law Journal, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, and Journal of Civic Information. Her research has been funded by multiple grants, most recently from the National Science Foundation. She is a co-author of the widely recognized law school casebook First Amendment and the Fourth Estate: The Law of Mass Media, published by Foundation Press (Thomson Reuters). 

In addition to her research, Sanders serves on the Board of Directors for the Student Press Law Center, a nonprofit organization that promotes, supports and defends the First Amendment rights of student journalists and their advisers. An expert witness and consultant to Fortune 500 companies on media law and ethics issues, Sanders has counseled international governments and law firms regarding regulatory proceedings, policy development, and pending litigation. She has been quoted by the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, Reason Magazine, Mother Jones, Wired, the Dallas Morning News, and numerous other media outlets. Sanders has published opinion columns in major newspapers, including in USA Today, the Houston Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman. 

As a teacher, Sanders has developed and taught courses on comparative media law, media ethics, surveillance technologies and media leadership. Her pedagogy work has been funded by grants aimed to increase the use of technology in the classroom and to develop blended-learning curricula. Sanders enjoys traveling abroad with students on both academic and co-curricular trips and has taken students to the United States, United Kingdom, and Vietnam. 

Sanders worked as a copy editor and page designer for the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun, then a New York Times Co. newspaper. She earned a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Florida. She obtained her MA in professional journalism and her Juris Doctorate at the University of Iowa, where she focused her studies on media law and policy. 

Lyrissa Lidsky is the Raymond & Miriam Ehrlich Chair in U.S. Constitutional Law at Florida Law. She previously served as Dean of the University of Missouri School of Law from 2017-2022. The focus of her research and teaching is the intersection of Tort Law and the First Amendment, with an emphasis on free speech issues in social media. Missouri Lawyers Media named Lidsky its 2020 Woman of the Year based on her scholarship, passion for law, mentorship of students, and engagement of constituencies supporting the school of law.

Before becoming dean at Missouri, Lidsky served in a variety of leadership roles at UF Law, including as associate dean for graduate and international programs and associate dean for faculty development. She also held the Stephen C. O’Connell Chair in Law and received a number of teaching awards during her 23-year tenure at UF, including student-selected awards such as Teacher of the Year (twice) and Faculty Graduation Speaker (three times), as well as Teacher of the Year, which was selected by a faculty committee.

A prominent Media Law scholar, she is co-reporter on the Restatement of Defamation and Privacy, co-author of a leading Media Law casebook, a First Amendment casebook, and a reference book on press freedom and has published dozens of articles, culminating in her recent article in California Law Review titled Considering the Context of Online Threats. Her work on anonymous speech has been cited by a number of state supreme courts and the highest courts of Canada and Hong Kong.

Before becoming a law professor, Lidsky served as a clerk for the Honorable Joseph T. Sneed of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, Calif. Lidsky received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law with high honors. She was initiated into Order of the Coif in recognition of her scholastic achievement and served as articles editor of the Texas Law Review. Before law school, she was a Fulbright Scholar at Cambridge University in England, studying medieval legal history and early development of the Common Law. She received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in English and political science from Texas A&M University.


Alexandra Gutierrez is a practicing attorney and former journalist.  Alexandra began her career in Washington, D.C., where she worked for The American Prospect and The Economist.  She then spent five years as a reporter in Alaska, first managing a news department in the Aleutian Islands and then working as the state public radio network’s capital correspondent.  After transitioning to a legal career, Alexandra served as the Center for Investigative Reporting’s First Amendment Fellow and as a Yale Law Journal Public Interest Fellow.  She also clerked for Judge Diana Gribbon Motz of the Fourth Circuit and Judge Janet Bond Arterton of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.  She is now an associate at Williams & Connolly, where she represents news organizations.  Alexandra received her J.D. from Yale Law School and her A.B. from Harvard University.


Jasmine McNealy is an attorney, technologist, and internationally recognized scholar whose research is interdisciplinary, centered at the intersection of media, technology, policy, and law. Of particular focus are the areas of privacy, surveillance, and data governance and the impacts on marginalized and vulnerable communities. She is a Senior Fellow in Tech Policy with the Mozilla Foundation, a tenured, associate professor at the University of Florida, and a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Jasmine recently completed a term as a technology advisor for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. 


Matthew Schafer is Vice President, Assistant General Counsel, Litigation for Paramount Global. He handles content litigation across Paramount subsidiaries like CBS News, Showtime, and Simon & Schuster, with a focus on defamation claims. 

He also teaches media law at Fordham University School of Law and regularly writes on the history of press freedom with his articles published in law reviews around the country. 

Previously, he was newsroom counsel at BuzzFeed News, where he advised on day-to-day liability stemming from gathering and reporting the news. He began his career at the First Amendment litigation boutique Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz. He earned his J.D. from Georgetown University and holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Louisiana State University.

Leita Walker is a litigator and trial lawyer in the firm’s Media and Entertainment Law Group. She has nearly 15 years of experience defending media organizations in libel litigation and helping them obtain access to governmental and judicial records. Leita’s First Amendment practice includes defending libel, privacy, and right of publicity claims in trial and appellate courts across the country; prepublication vetting of both news and entertainment content; and advising clients on subpoenas and privilege issues, copyright law, and state and federal Freedom of Information Act laws. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Leita wrote for The Christian Science Monitor, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the Lawrence Journal-World.

Special Thanks

With special thanks to the Dale Spencer Free Press Endowment at RJI. Professor Spencer earned his law degree from the University of Missouri School of Law and also graduated from and taught at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.