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Student Press Law Leader to Head Brechner Freedom of Information Center

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications today announced that Frank LoMonte is the new director of the Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information.

The Brechner Center, located in the College, is a non-profit educational center addressing issues around freedom of information, libel, privacy, prior restraints, “Sunshine” laws, access to courts and other First Amendment issues.

LoMonte will be responsible for advancing the Center’s mission around freedom of information and the First Amendment and broaden it to address other media-related legal issues, including investigative and digital journalism, new technologies, policy and regulation.

“Frank joins us at a time when the erosion of access at all levels of government is accelerating and digital technology is altering the media law landscape,” said Diane McFarlin, dean of the College.   “We are so pleased that someone of his stature and experience will be guiding our efforts to build on the Brechner heritage, while broadening the center’s scope.”

LoMonte has been the executive director of the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) in Washington, D.C. since 2008.  During his tenure, he launched a number of major programming initiatives, including:

  • Organizing the “Tinker Tour,” a nationwide First Amendment awareness tour featuring civil-liberties icon Mary Beth Tinker, which, during the 2013-14 school year, reached more than 200,000 people across 41 states.
  • Leading the charge to enact reform legislation protecting students and educators against institutional retaliation for their journalistic work. The “New Voices” movement has resulted in enactment of fortified legal protections in Illinois, Maryland and North Dakota, with bills pending in 11 states, and has left behind student-led grassroots organizations in each state to keep watch over abuses of journalists’ rights.
  • Launching the Active Voice project to raise awareness of the impact of school censorship on leadership development opportunities for young women, and creating a paid fellowship program for college undergraduates across the country to design replicable “press freedom service projects” amplifying the voices of young women in their communities.

“I’m excited and inspired by Dean McFarlin’s vision that the Brechner Center can serve as the nation’s preeminent source of scholarship identifying the barriers that inhibit journalism,” LoMonte said.  “With these insights, we can map the way toward solutions and bring together the stakeholders who can make change.”

Before joining the SPLC, LoMonte practiced law with Sutherland Asbill and Brennan LLP in Atlanta and clerked for federal judges on the Northern District of Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Prior to embarking on his legal career, he was an award-winning investigative journalist and political columnist. He was the capitol correspondent for the Florida Times Union (Jacksonville), Washington correspondent for Morris News Service and the Atlanta bureau chief for Morris.

LoMonte received his B.A. in political science in 1994 from Georgia State University and graduated magna cum laude in 2000 from the University of Georgia School Of Law where he was a Georgia Law Review senior editor.  He was the Otis Brumby Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at the Georgia Law School in spring-summer 2014 and has been a lecturer since 2015 in the University of Georgia Washington Program, teaching a course for undergraduates on “Law of Social Media.”

He will join The Brechner Center this summer.

The College of Journalism and Communications is also home to the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, directed by Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication Clay Calvert. The First Amendment Project is dedicated to current and contemporary issues affecting the First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, thought, assembly and petition.

Posted: October 30, 2017
Category: Uncategorized