Durr Lecture Series


Robert Ellis Smith and David Risser

April 7, 2002
7:30 p.m.
Irma B. Moore Hall Auditorium


Introduction Allen Hess
Welcome Chancellor Guin Nance
Welcome from the Durr Family  
The Durr Lectures Essay Award Stephen Black

Introduction of Robert Ellis Smith:
Expert on Privacy Rights
- Privacy is the right of individuals to control the collection and use of personal information about themselves.

Allen Hess
Robert Ellis Smith  
Introduction of David Risser:
Managing Editor of 
The Montgomery Advertiser
- Cities where the newspapers did not suppress news have fared better in the post-civil rights era.
William Honey
David Risser  
Questions and Answers  
Closing Remarks

Allen K. Hess

Robert Ellis Smith

Robert Ellis Smith is a journalist who uses his training as an attorney to report on the individual's right to privacy. Since 1974, he has published Privacy Journal, a monthly newsletter on privacy in a computer age based in Providence, R.I.
Smith is a frequent speaker, writer, and Congressional witness on privacy issues and has compiled a clearinghouse of information on the subject: computer data banks, credit and medical records, the Internet, electronic surveillance, the law of privacy, and physical and psychological privacy.
Smith is the author of Ben Franklin’s Web Site: Privacy and Curiosity from Plymouth Rock to the Internet (Spring 2000), the first and only published history of privacy in the U.S. He is also the author of Our Vanishing Privacy (1993), The Law of Privacy Explained (1993), Privacy: How to Protect What’s Left of It;Workrights, a book describing individual rights in the workplace; and The Big Brother Book of Lists. Privacy Journal also publishes Compilation of State and Federal Privacy Laws, Celebrities and Privacy, and War Stories, a collection of anecdotes on privacy invasions.
The New York Times said Smith "sounds the alarm about maintaining freedom and privacy in the computer age" and called him "a principled critic." Privacy Journal is "a privacy watchdog," according to Time, and "the paper of record for lawyers and others interested in privacy rights," according to U.S. News and World Report. In 1999, U.S. News called him "the Ralph Nader of privacy."
Smith, 60, has been asked to write the definitive statement on privacy in the last two editions of The World Book Encyclopedia.  He has appeared on all three network morning news programs, as well as "Face the Nation," "Nightline," and "All Things Considered." He has been a regular commentator on "Marketplace" on American Public Radio.
From 1970 to 1973, Smith was the assistant director of the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Prior to that, he had nine years of experience as a news reporter and editor with the Detroit Free Press, Trenton Times, The Southern Courier, and Newsday.
A 1962 graduate of Harvard College, Smith received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1976. He served as a member of the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission until 1986. In 1997, Vice President Gore named him to the Civil Liberties Panel of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security.

David Risser

David Risser is managing editor of the Montgomery Advertiser. He is in charge of day-to-day news gathering operations and is a member of the newspaper's operating committee.
Risser, 36, grew up in Washington, D.C., where he attended public schools. He earned a degree in history at Stanford University and also has studied at Jagiellonian University in Poland and Oxford University in England.
Risser began his newspaper career as a reporter at the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia. He has held editing positions at several papers in California and Oregon. Risser served as managing editor of The Jackson Sun in Tennessee before joining the Advertiser in 2001.
Risser has twice been named Newsroom Supervisor of the Year for Gannett Co., the parent company of the Advertiser. He has led several reporting endeavors that have won national awards, including a series on the Untold Story of Jackson's Civil Rights Movement that won journalism's highest ethics award, the Payne, and one of the field's most prestigious public service awards, the APME public service medal.
Risser lives in Montgomery with his wife, Vicky, and children, Nathan and Hannah.