Students and faculty watch “The Post” for primer on journalistic integrity

A cold, rainy weekend didn’t stop a small group of MTSU media students, faculty and staff from recently viewing a cinematic snapshot of First Amendment history.

The group received a front row seat Saturday, Feb. 10, at Green Hills Regal Cinema in Nashville during a screening of “The Post,” a critically acclaimed movie that outlines events leading up to The Washington Post’s publication of classified documents surrounding the war in Vietnam.

Ken Paulson, dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment and First Amendment expert, wants students to realize the importance of accessing public information.“We wanted the next generation of media professionals to understand the key role that journalism of integrity can play in shoring up a democracy,” said Paulson, who accompanied students to the screening along with School of Journalism Director Greg Pitts and Associate Dean Zeny Sarabia-Panol. “‘The Post’ illustrates how important it is for all Americans to hold their government accountable and how access to information makes that possible.”

Journalism instructor Chris Clark encouraged his students to attend the screening to grasp the importance of the free press today. “Our profession is under serious attack from the highest levels of government,” said Clark, the former longtime NewsChannel 5 anchor. “It’s good to remind ourselves that attacks on our profession are not new nor are they likely to end, especially if we do our jobs right.”

Paulson noted this is only the beginning of several special screenings and concerts so future and current students can receive the MTSU experience. “We want students’ relationship with our college to begin before they step on campus and continue long after they graduate,” he said.

Last fall, MTSU launched a new online First Amendment Encyclopedia, which contains more than 1,500 essays and articles about court decisions and doctrines; people, law and events; and general issues and organizations significant in the First Amendment’s history in the United States.

The encyclopedia is one of the programs of the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies, which MTSU established in 1986 to honor the late John Seigenthaler’s lifelong commitment to free expression. Deborah Fisher is interim director.

The Seigenthaler Chair also supports First Amendment programs and lectures, including a Pulitzer Prize speakers series; sponsors hands-on journalism experiential programs for students; and houses “1 for All,” which provides teaching materials on the First Amendment.

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Categories: Events, Faculty, News, Students

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