The 2017 Bughouse Square Debates | Newberry

The 2017 Bughouse Square Debates

Pondering the main debate.

The Bughouse 2016 Soapbox judges, Mandela Okere, Rachel Goodstein (the 2015 Dill Pickle Award Winner), and Elizabeth Tandy Shermer; and Rick Kogan, Emcee.

Environmental Encroachment Marching Band, 2016 Bughouse

Ammad Hyland, age 13, runner-up for the 2016 Dill Pickle Award.

Ready to heckle!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Noon to 4 pm

Washington Square Park (aka Bughouse Square), 901 North Clark Street, across Walton from the Newberry

Free and open to the public; no registration required.
Open to the Public
Other Programs

At a time when political polarization is intensified by the extremes of digital discourse, the Bughouse Square Debates are a public forum where people can encounter new ideas and share their own—in person!

Join the Newberry for Chicago’s favorite free speech event! Lively musical entertainment will kick off the program at noon, followed by the Main Debate, soapbox speakers, and the presentation of two awards: the Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award and the Dill Pickle Award to the champion soapbox orator. In addition, nearly two dozen local organizations and causes will set up information tables in the park, with volunteers to answer your questions. We’ll also have food trucks on hand to fuel the speakers.

Bring your loudest heckling voice, mount the open soapbox, and exercise your First Amendment rights. Take it to the park this summer! And don’t miss the Newberry Book Fair before and/or after the Debates!


Noon: Entertainment

Environmental Encroachment Brass Band

1 pm: Welcome and Introduction to Bughouse Square

1:15 pm: Presentation of the 2017 John Peter Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award to Kevin Coval

1:30 pm Main Debate: What Constitutes Legitimate Journalsim in a Hyper-Connected World?

What is”real” versus “fake” news? When is it acceptable to publish or broadcast an unsubstantiated report? What sources can be deemed reliable? How does crowd-sourcing fit into the equation? Should journalistic ethics and standards espoused by mainstream print and broadcast reporters and editors be revised, in the face of alternative media and the never-ending 24-hour news cycle? And if so, how?

2:20 pm: Musical Interlude

2:30 pm Soapbox Speeches and Open Soapbox

  • Soapbox speakers will be added soon

3:30 pm: Musical Interlude

3:45 pm Dill Pickle Awarded to the Soapbox Champion

Food Trucks

Learn more about the history of Bughouse Square.

Cost and Registration Information 

Free and open to the public; no registration required.