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Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity

» Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity

"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech."
- Benjamin Franklin

Free speech in America is at a crossroads and the battleground for its future is on college campuses and within media outlets. The Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity at Chapman University will be dedicated to the defense of free expression in all its forms. Our goal is to advance and promote the ideals of free speech and balanced media while at the same time monitor and challenge media bias and assaults on free speech.

Throughout the year the Center hosts a series of great debates focused on modeling civil discourse for students, publishes papers on topics surrounding free expression and media integrity, and host a conference that brings scholars and experts on the topics of free expression and media integrity to Chapman. The Center is also home to Chapman’s Bridge USA chapter, a student-led organization aimed at fostering spaces wherein a diverse range of ideas can be discussed.

  • Great Debates Series
  • Bridge USA Chapter
  • Media Integrity
  • Events
  • Great social issues of debate affect civil discourse in the workplace and society. The purpose of this Great Debates Series is to effectively tap into civil discourse and related interpersonal and organizational conflicts that often result in messaging and business challenges in the workplace.

    The Great Debates Series will bring together leading minds from the left and right to debate on Chapman’s campus. The series features topical debates on issues of great importance in society, allowing unpopular positions to be aired and debated in a climate consistent with the philosophy of the Center. The Great Debates’ Series serves to attract and train students in the value of open expression that is thought-provoking, grounded in evidence-based research and presented with compelling argumentation. And, hopefully, openness to changing minds based on fact and discussion.

  • Housed within the Center Chapman’s BridgeUSA chapter is designed to bring about viewpoint diversity in a respectful communication environment where students can discuss and debate ideas across the ideological spectrum. Creating an environment where all types of ideas can be considered and discussed is critical to Democracy.

    As stated in their mission: The purpose of a BridgeUSA chapter is to build a Bridge community -- one in which students from across the ideological spectrum can engage as a group working together to understand--to bridge--the various perspectives behind the important political and social issues of our time. The ultimate goal of a BridgeUSA chapter is not only to constructively engage with viewpoints you disagree with but also to empathize with those that hold these ideas. If we want a new generation of leaders that reject polarization and division, we must demonstrate constructive and empathetic discourse on our college campuses.

    Students interested in joining Chapman's BridgeUSA chapter can contact the Director of Operations, Michael Ross.

  • One of the biggest functions served by media in a democratic society is offering the public access to political and social information. At its best, watchdog journalism prevents abuse of power and enables citizens to make informed decisions. However, the power of media to disseminate information can also be used to promote falsehood, myths, and rumors. The media integrity watch involves undergraduate students working collaboratively with faculty researchers to expose and document trends in media biases and misinformation. Using state of the art techniques in news content analysis, students will learn to identify trends in media discourse and offer evidence-based criticism of reporting practices.

    While some misinformation in the media is simply honest errors, other instances of misinformation are spread intentionally for political gain. Either way, it is exceptionally difficult to correct misinformation and undo its effect. By providing a quantitative analysis of these processes, the media integrity watch advances critical media consumption among students and the general public, as well as provides the media industry with feedback and opportunity to enhance accountability. Data generated by these efforts will then be utilized for academic research in peer-reviewed journals, to advance scientific understanding of the relationship between media representations and public opinion trends.

  • Check back for information on future events.

Founding Executive Director

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“Free societies require the uninhibited flow of information and speech regardless of how controversial it may be. Universities exist to create knowledge through open and constructive debate of ideas while media exists to disseminate information responsibly and in balanced fashion—both are vital to our democracy.” - Lisa Sparks, Ph.D.

Dr. Lisa Sparks is the Inaugural Dean of the School of Communication and an Endowed Professor in behavioral science at Chapman University. She served as Chair of the Department of Communication Studies and Founding Director of the Master of Science graduate program in Health and Strategic Communication from 2006 until 2016 when she launched the School of Communication. In 2019, Dr. Sparks secured $1.2 Million to launch a new Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity.

Executive Director

Image of Brian Calle

Brian Calle is an instructor in the School of Communication and the Executive Director of the Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity. Brian is also CEO and Publisher of the L.A. Weekly and Irvine Weekly. He holds Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in Communications and Political Science from the University of Southern California and California State University, Los Angeles, respectively.

Prior to his current professional endeavors, Brian was Opinion Editor of the Southern California News Group, overseeing editorial content for its 11 newspapers and websites including the Los Angeles Daily News and Orange County Register. He was also the co-host of Fox 11’s “You Decide: SoCal” weekly news broadcast as well as host of the Catch-Up daily radio show on KABC.

He has worked as vice president of the Claremont Institute; worked as a congressional aide in the United States House of Representatives; and has also taught undergraduate students at California State University, Los Angeles and California State University, Fullerton and a graduate course at Pepperdine University.

Director of Operations

Headshot of Michael Ross

Michael Ross is Director of Operations at the Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity and an instructor in the School of Communication. In addition, Michael is a global ambassador for Entrepreneurs’ Organization and leads delegations of the international entrepreneurial community for summits and events sponsored by the US Department of State, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Global Entrepreneurship Network, and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Michael initiated and managed public-private partnerships with several international governments and officials including the Prime Minister and Royal Family of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Prime Minister Modi of India, Argentinian President Macri, and a past president of Panama.

Prior to becoming a successful serial entrepreneur, Michael was a congressional liaison to several federal agencies for US Congressman Jim Kolbe. He graduated with a B.S. in Marketing Management from Grove City College, Pennsylvania with post-graduate coursework at the University of California, Irvine and the Key Executive Program (KEP) at MIT in a collaboration with Entrepreneurs’ Organization.