The Silha Center was established in 1984 with a grant from Otto and Helen Silha. The Center's primary function is to conduct research in areas where legal and ethical issues converge and to monitor changes in law or in journalistic practice that may result. The Center mounts an endowed annual public lecture and also sponsors forums on a variety of topics. Privacy, confidential sources, ethical issues in business and political reporting, "sweeps month" mentality in reporting, and the law and ethics affecting film restoration are among topics covered in recent years.
The Center funds graduate student research, publishes the Bulletin, a quarterly newsletter, cosponsors Media Ethics, a national newsletter published at Emerson College, and is a member of the Advisory Council for the Cornerstone Project, a public awareness and education program aimed at celebrating the First Amendment. In 2003, the Silha Center authored an amicus brief in Office of Independent Counsel v. Allan J. Favish, an important Freedom of Information Act case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Silha Center also provides information and comment to scholars and media professionals, both nationally and internationally. It offers print, audio, and video copies of the annual lectures, media law and ethics bibliographies, and a number of publications from the now-defunct National News Council. A compilation of the Council's determinations is also available through the Center.