New campaign puts First Amendment first

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

WASHINGTON — A new nationwide campaign, 1 for All, to build understanding and public support for the First Amendment, launches today.

The nonpartisan campaign is a collaborative effort of educators, artists, journalists, lawyers, librarians and others who believe the public will benefit from a greater understanding of the First Amendment. 1 for All encourages news media and other organizations to explain the First Amendment and encourage Americans to celebrate and use the freedoms it guarantees: speech, press, religion, assembly and petition.

“Surveys by the First Amendment Center indicate that only one American in 25 can identify the five freedoms of the First Amendment,” said Ken Paulson, president of the Newseum and First Amendment Center, and a founder of the campaign.

“A surprising number of Americans don’t understand that these freedoms enrich our lives daily through freedom of expression and faith.”

The concept behind 1 for All “is to remind the public that there’s one amendment that we all use daily,” Paulson said. “And it’s the one that guarantees freedom for all.”

The campaign has its origins as a 2007 project of the American Society of News Editors, which convened a summit of educators, journalists, artists, attorneys and advocates to talk about why the public knows so little about the First Amendment. Attendees concluded that education and marketing were critical to building understanding and support.

The Knight Foundation, McCormick Foundation, Newseum, First Amendment Center, Gannett Foundation and Brechner Center contributed resources to the cause. More than 300 organizations nationwide have committed to carrying public service ads and publicizing the campaign, including many of the nation’s largest news organizations and online companies. The ads colorfully highlight First Amendment freedoms.

Gene Policinski, First Amendment Center executive director and co-chair of ASNE’s First Amendment Committee, said that at its heart “the campaign is all about education.”

“We want to reach as many people as possible with the message that their freedoms matter,” he said. “And, as new forms of media and a diverse society bring new challenges to our freedoms, the public needs to be better grounded in our basic freedoms to judge both those challenges and proposed solutions.”

1 for All provides lesson plans and other educational resources to help teachers in elementary through high school teach First Amendment freedoms. Colleges are also being encouraged to host events celebrating the First Amendment.

“1 for All is an opportunity for those who believe in the importance of free expression to share one overriding message with the American people: It’s not a coincidence that the strongest, most dynamic, most creative and most ambitious nation in the history of the planet is also the most free,” Paulson said.

Jed Hilly, executive director, Americana Music Association, said the association “is privileged to work with 1 for All to promote freedom of speech in music. Free expression is a critical element in the arts, and especially in music. Cheers to 1 for All for reminding us of this great freedom and for spreading the message throughout the land.”

In the Pharos-Tribune in Logansport, Ind., Managing Editor Kelly Hawes wrote, “The freedoms spelled out by the First Amendment are the same ones we’ll be celebrating [this] weekend as we mark the 234th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I hope you’ll take note of the (1 for All) campaign, and please help to spread the word about the importance of these freedoms. They are the heart and soul of the American way of life.”

“1 for All is a worthy project that every American can play a role in by getting involved, learning more about the First Amendment and teaching our youth what it means,” wrote Michael Caldwell, publisher and columnist for The (Ironton, Ohio) Tribune. “The Three Musketeers stood all for one. Americans must stand 1 for All.”

“[We] are pleased to be able to support this groundbreaking initiative, reminding all Americans of the value of a free press and the First Amendment,” said Robert Dickey, president of Gannett U.S. Community Publishing.

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