Robert J. Bellafiore, senior partner at Eric Mower and Associates (EMA) and director of the firm’s Public Affairs practice, will be the crisis communications expert at the New York Fair Trial/Free Press Conference panel discussion titled “Sex, Money and the Press: Fair Trials in the Age of New Media” on Nov. 13 at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications. He will act as communications consultant to an accused business and civic leader in a hypothetical crisis scenario.
The distinguished panel also includes leading judges, journalists, attorneys and a prosecutor, and will discuss state and federal fair trial and free press issues affecting the news media, courts, law enforcement and the legal profession. Panelists will explore questions including: Does the public’s right to know outweigh privacy rights of the accused and their families regarding uncharged crimes? Should bloggers be protected against subpoenas for their sources? What are the implications of the 24-hour news cycle for fair and accurate coverage of the justice system?
“In the 24-7 world of online, cable TV and more, news moves fast,” Mr. Bellafiore said. “Some of it is accurate and some of it is conjecture, assumption or worse—and reputations pay the price. Crisis communicators need to be faster and smarter than the news media to protect not only their clients’ reputations, but the American principles of truth, accuracy and fair play.”
The New York Fair Trial/Free Press Conference is chaired by the Hon. Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York, who will make opening remarks with retired Court of Appeals Associate Judge Stewart F. Hancock. The organization is co-chaired by Court of Appeals Associate Judge Robert S. Smith and retired Court of Appeals Associate Judge Albert M. Rosenblatt, along with Albany Times Union Editor and Vice President Rex Smith.
Others on the panel include: John Lammers, special projects editor with the Syracuse Post-Standard; the Hon. Rosemary S. Pooler, judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit; the Hon. Deborah Karalunas, judge, New York State Supreme Court, 5th Judicial District (Syracuse); Lorraine Branham, dean, Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications; Steven D. Clymer, chief of the Criminal Division for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York; William Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County district attorney; Glenn P. Valle, general counsel to the New York State Police; Michael J. Grygiel, attorney with Hiscock & Barclay LLP; Irene Jay Liu, staff writer for the Albany Times Union‘s Capitol Confidential Blog; Dan Cummings, managing editor of News Channel 9/WSYR-TV; and William T. Easton, Rochester, N.Y., defense attorney.
Mr. Bellafiore, a graduate of the University at Albany, leads EMA’s agency-wide public affairs practice and serves on EMA’s board of directors. He joined EMA in 2003 after more than 20 years as a news reporter and communications professional, having served as Gov. George E. Pataki’s first press secretary and later deputy chief of staff; Statehouse reporter for The Associated Press and communications director for The Business Council of New York State. Mr. Bellafiore’s op-eds have been published in The New York Times, the New York Post and the Buffalo News, and he is a regular commentator on “Capital Tonight,” a nightly public affairs program on Time Warner Cable’s Capital News 9 across Upstate. He also serves as a Trustee of the State University of New York, where he chairs the Board’s Committee on Communications and External Affairs.