Free speech and press are cause for celebration

On November 12 and 13, WGCU – along with our partners at The News-Press, the Naples Daily News and Florida Gulf Coast University – will present the 2018 First Amendment Festival, which will focus on free speech, freedom of the press and the public’s access to information in the U.S. You can get more information and register to attend the free events at tickets.news-press.com/e/2018-first-amendment-festival-free-speech-press/tickets.
Attacks on “the media” (as if it were one huge undifferentiated organism) have escalated to a dangerous level in the past few years. Dangerous for practitioners, yes, but more important, dangerous for our democracy. The free flow of information to the public through a variety of journalistically sound news sources is critical to maintaining an informed and educated electorate. And, now, “news literacy” is as important as news access. The ability to distinguish what is factual news from the torrent of propaganda, half-truths and full lies that bombard us every day through social media outlets, 24-hour cable news channels and party line publications posing as legitimate news purveyors is an essential skill.
Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for NPR, will be the keynote speaker for the First Amendment Festival and she will – no doubt – touch on these important issues. During her nearly 30-year career at NPR, Liasson gained a reputation as a straight shooter and tough questioner as she covered seven presidential elections from 1992 to 2016. Liasson’s 7:30 p.m. speech at FGCU’s Cohen Center on November 13 is free and open to the public and I encourage you take advantage of this opportunity to hear one of the brightest journalistic lights working today.