International Conference: Freedom of Information in Germany and the USA

Press Release No. 110/2012
3 May 2012
Scholars and journalists at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies

Issues connected with freedom of information in the United States and Germany are the focus of an international conference at Heidelberg University’s Center for American Studies (HCA) from 10 to 12 May 2012. The conference will discuss the history of the public’s right to know as well as aspects of constitutional law, economic policy and media technology, not least with regard to the publication of confidential documents on WikiLeaks. The HCA has invited a number of prestigious speakers, including scholars from various disciplines and journalists from both countries. Some 50 participants are expected to take part in the conference, which is titled “From Pentagon Papers to WikiLeaks: A Transatlantic Conversation on the Public Right to Know”.

The conference will explore the multiple barriers to an informed citizenry and the ways in which first and foremost the press but also other activists have challenged those barriers. It will cast light on the tensions between a government’s interest to keep information secret and its duty to inform the public on the one side and the interests of informational self-determination and investigative journalism on the other. Among the participants will be the investigative journalists Robin Fields, Robert Perry and Susan Sheehan (Pulitzer Prize 1983) as well as Barry Sussman of the Nieman Watchdog Project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Also present is „Spiegel“ editor Marcel Rosenbach, who was part of the team that in conjunction with various newspapers prepared the concerted publication of the confidential Afghanistan documents released by WikiLeaks.

The opening lecture will be held by Neil Sheehan, who facilitated the publication of the so-called Pentagon Papers by the „New York Times“ in 1971. He was awarded Pulitzer Prizes both as a journalist and as an author. His public lecture entitled “A Unique Gift to Truth and Freedom: The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States” will take place at 6.15 pm on Thursday, 10 May 2012, at the HCA, Curt und Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais, Hauptstrasse 120, Heidelberg.

Conference proceedings will be held in English; the conference is partly funded by the Federal Government’s Transatlantic Programme from resources provided by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Participation is free of charge, but those planning to attend will need to register beforehand by sending an e-mail to The conference venue is the Heidelberg Center for American Studies.

For more information, go to

Dr. Anja Schüler
Heidelberg Center for American Studies
Phone: +49 6221 54-3879

Editor: Email
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