Free speech has become a lightning rod on college campuses. To add perspective to the debates, the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism hosted a live-stream discussion of free expression with national leaders in film, journalism, and digital media. The event took place at 4:00 p.m., PST on Monday, February 12, 2018. 

Excerpts from widely acclaimed feature films, including The Post and Spotlight, set the stage for a conversation with

  • Participant Media CEO David Linde
  • Washington Post Editor Martin Baron
  • SoulPancake CEO Shabnam Mogharabi
  • Academy Award-winning film and television writer Josh Singer
  • and Phi Beta Kappa Secretary and CEO Frederick M. Lawrence 


Presented by The Phi Beta Kappa Society and Participant Media.  

Co-sponsored by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative.  


David Linde

David Linde is chief executive officer of Participant Media, the global media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires and compels social change. Linde is responsible for leading the company’s overall strategy, day-to-day operations, content creation, advocacy, strategic investments and acquisitions. Previously, Linde led Lava Bear Films, served as chairman of Universal Pictures, and ran acclaimed film studio Focus Features. Linde also served on the NBCUniversal board of directors and as the chair of NBCUniversal’s Diversity Council.

Martin Baron

Marty Baron is executive editor of The Washington Post, overseeing a staff of about 800 journalists. Under his leadership, The Post has won five Pulitzer Prizes. Previously, Baron was editor of the Boston Globe and during his time the newsroom took home six Pulitzers. Baron also held top editing positions at The New York TimesThe Los Angeles Times and The Miami Herald.

Shabnam Mogharabi

Shabnam Mogharabi is CEO of SoulPancake, the award-winning digital media and entertainment company founded by actor Rainn Wilson, now a division of Participant Media. Shabnam oversees SoulPancake's operations, and under her leadership, the company has more than quadrupled its revenue, amassed more than 10 million fans and 500 million video views, and engaged a robust demographic of Optimistic Millennials.  Prior to joining SoulPancake in 2009, she was an award-winning journalist and magazine editor and holds degrees from USC and Northwestern University.

Josh Singer

Josh Singer is an Academy Award-winning film and television writer. Singer’s most recent project is The Post, in which he shares a co-writing credit with Liz Hannah. He previously co-wrote the acclaimed drama Spotlight, and earned an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, a Critics’ Choice Award, WGA Award and BAFTA Award for his contribution. Prior to writing films, Singer worked on acclaimed television shows including Fox’s “Fringe,” NBC’s long-running hit “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and NBC’s Emmy-winning “The West Wing.”  Singer graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University having studied in Mathematics and Economics, and earned his JD at Harvard Law School and MBA at Harvard Business School.

Frederick M. Lawrence

Lawrence is Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. A lawyer and civil rights scholar who is one of the nation’s leading experts on bias crimes and free expression, he has served as President of Brandeis University and Dean of the George Washington Law School and is currently a Distinguished Lecturer at the Georgetown Law Center.

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