Speaker Series with the Youngstown Press Club

By Samantha Smith

The Youngstown Press Club will be hosting an event called the Speaker Series from 12 to 1:30 p.m. on March 7 at Concept Studio. The club will have a guest speaker to discuss subjects like the Free Press Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

Jacob Schriner-Briggs, the guest speaker and a Yale Press Clause Fellow, said he will talk about the decline of news and the First Amendment during his speech.

“I will be trying to connect the effects that the decline in the news, especially local news, has on basic democratic functions. The press is necessary for democracy and I think the fact that it is struggling economically and politically is bad for democracy,” Shriner-Briggs said. “I’ll talk about what the First Amendment can do to address those issues and maybe some of the limitations on what the First Amendment can do.”

Shriner-Briggs said he chose to speak about this topic because it goes along with the work he currently does.

“It speaks to the heart of what I’m doing for work,” Shriner-Briggs said. “On top of the constitutional issues that this project that I’m working on is exploring, I have this particular interest in how those constitutional questions relate to questions of democracy more broadly. So, it made sense to talk about this, the same things that I’m working on.” 

George Nelson, president of the Youngstown Press Club, said the club exists to help those in communication professions to network.

“Basically, [the club is] just a group to provide a forum for communications professionals to meet, learn [and] socialize. We hold education events, seminars. We also hold social events,” Nelson said.

The press club originally formed in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, but the new, current version of the club was formed in 2018, Nelson said. The club currently has 70 members and is always open to more people joining

Nelson said the event is to help bridge the gap fake news has created between the press and the general public.

“You have people talking about the whole concept of fake news and trying to apply that to anything that they don’t necessarily agree with, whether it is fake or not. Part of what we do is try to get the message out, these are dedicated professionals, these people are working hard and working in good conscience to try to bring you information in the best and most responsible way possible,” Nelson said.

Shriner-Briggs said it’s a privilege to be asked to speak at the event and his connection to journalists from his previous job.

“It’s an honor. It’s really an honor,” Shriner-Briggs said. “I am in this current job, but before that, I worked as a media lawyer, so I represented journalists and helped them access information and defend it against defamation lawsuits.”

Reservations are required to attend the event. The cost is $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. To become a member of the Youngstown Press Club, and find more information about the club, visit its website.