Home » News » Free Speech Center, Poynter Institute collaborate on First Amendment education

By Ken Paulson, published on August 12, 2021

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Graphic by Leslie Haines

The Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University is teaming with the Poynter Institute to bring First Amendment education tools to America’s college campuses.


“The best way to build real understanding of the First Amendment is to engage college students on real-world issues, clearly conveying that 230-year-old free-expression principles are critical to our democracy today,” said Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center.


The initiative, which combines the Poynter Institute’s “Press Pass” program with the Free Speech Center’s “Lessons in Liberty,” will give educators timely and interactive classroom exercises designed to illuminate freedom of speech and press for the next generation of citizens.


“This program is designed to give students a chance to really discuss and debate the very real issues unfolding in front of them in the media landscape,” said Barbara Allen, Poynter’s director of college programming. “It’s a reminder that they have a stake in these issues as young people shaping the industry.


Future installments will focus on journalism ethics, free speech on campus, media business practices and legal precedents affecting journalists. They are available free of charge at www.freespeech.center.


“We’re very pleased to be working with the Poynter Institute, a pre-eminent authority on journalism ethics and media professionalism, on lessons that will illuminate the First Amendment for college students and instill greater respect for the free exchange of ideas,” Paulson said.


About the Free Speech Center


The Free Speech Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy center dedicated to building understanding of the five freedoms of the First Amendment through education, information and engagement. It does not participate in litigation or lobbying.


Its educational efforts include:


  • The First Amendment Encyclopedia, an unparalleled collection of more than 1,500 articles on First Amendment topics, court cases and history developed in partnership with the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies. Articles are written to be accessible by young people and the general public. About 20,000 students and educators access the site each school day.
  • 1 for All, a national nonpartisan and nonprofit educational effort to build understanding and respect for the five freedoms of the First Amendment in secondary and higher education.
  • Nationwide ad campaigns featuring celebrities to raise awareness of the First Amendment among a younger generation.
  • Frequent news, analysis and commentary on current First Amendment issues at freespeech.center.

About the Poynter Institute


Founded in 1975, Poynter is an inspirational place but also a practical one, connecting the varied crafts of journalism to its higher mission and purpose. From person-to-person coaching and intensive hands-on seminars to interactive online courses and media reporting, Poynter helps journalists sharpen skills and elevate storytelling throughout their careers.


We bring together Poynter faculty and industry experts to explore the intersection of journalism, technology and the public interest. Poynter specializes in:


  • Ethics and fact-checking
  • Reporting and storytelling
  • Developing journalism’s leaders
  • Advancing newsroom diversity
  • Strengthening local news companies

Learn more at poynter.org


The Free Speech Center newsletter offers a digest of First Amendment and news media-related news every other week. Subscribe for free here: https://bit.ly/3kG9uiJ



More than 1,700 articles on First Amendment topics, court cases and history