October 14, 2010
Veteran journalist Dan Morain, who has covered California politics and legal issues for more than three decades, delivered the Witkin Schaber Lecture to a luncheon audience of nearly 200 attendees on October 13, 2010, in Sacramento.
The annual event is sponsored by the Witkin Institute, McGeorge's Capital Center for Law & Policy, and the Sacramento County Bar Association. The lecture is named for the late Gordon D. Schaber, who was the dean of McGeorge from 1957 to 1991.
Morain, a senior editor and columnist at the Sacramento Bee, spoke on "Why Lawyers Should Care About Newspapers: Reporting the Law and Lawyers as Sources." He drew upon his 27 years as a capital reporter with the Los Angeles Times to trace parallels between journalism and the law.
Morain conceded that newspapers have lost their prominence, but argued that they have not lost their importance in the age of the Internet. He said a good journalist takes the role of public servant as seriously as an attorney takes the role of officer of the court.
"The First Amendment is of ultimate importance to both professions. In my experience, journalists and attorneys often have a symbiotic relationship," he said. "Attorneys are fabulous sources of information. In turn, journalists have a duty to promptly inform their readers in numerous situations where the public good may be threatened."
Morain said the people in his profession are justly proud of investigative journalism that serves the public interest just as all lawyers are proud of their profession's public service.