On Free Speech Through a New Lens

By Anne Tria Wise

Phi Beta Kappa began with the idea that smart conversation about key issues of the day truly matters to the nation. Free speech, a pillar of American democracy, has become a lightning rod on college campuses across the country. To add new perspectives to these debates, ΦBK, Participant Media, and the University of Southern California hosted a live-stream discussion of free expression with national leaders in film, journalism, and digital media on February 12.

Excerpts from widely-acclaimed feature films — The Post, Spotlight, among others — set the stage for a conversation with national leaders in film, digital media, and journalism. Featured panelists were Participant Media CEO David Linde, Washington Post editor Martin Baron (ΦBK, Lehigh, 1975), SoulPancake CEO Shabnam Mogharabi, and Academy Award-winning film and television writer Josh Singer (ΦBK, Yale, 1993). ΦBK Secretary and CEO Frederick M. Lawrence, a nationally-recognized expert in the law of free speech, moderated.

Committed to connecting our members to unique arts and sciences experiences, the Society invited three ΦBK students to join the panel. “Phi Beta Kappa is providing a forum to ask the big questions that don’t get asked enough or don’t have a place to be talked about. Having a space with well-educated, experienced people engaging with one another is so rare in the world. And with 

students, you’re engaging this generation with the problems of our time,” said junior inductee Hannah Leibson.

Visit pbk.org/NewLens to watch a video of the event.

Panelists discuss film, digital media, and social change.

Anne Tria Wise is the Director of the National Arts & Sciences Initiative at Phi Beta Kappa. She can be reached at (202) 745-3230 or