Press Releases

Mar 14, 2019

‘First Five’ Commentary on First Amendment Issues Returns to Weekly Distribution, with Companion Podcast, Newsletter

WASHINGTON – The regular commentary from the Freedom Forum Institute on First Amendment issues is returning to weekly distribution as of March 14 under the name “First Five” – which also positions it under the same brand as the weekly podcast and newsletter.

The “First Five” weekly column replaces the now twice-monthly commentary known as “Inside the First Amendment,” written by various staff of the Institute since the mid-1990s. “First Five” is co-authored by Institute President Gene Policinski and First Amendment Center Executive Director Lata Nott. The pair also co-hosts the First Five podcasts and Nott compiles the newsletter.

Under the “First Five” brand:

  • The weekly column of 600-800 words reacts to breaking news around the five freedoms – religion, speech, press, assembly and petition – and examines the effects or import of proposals engaging the First Amendment;
  • The weekly podcast features interviews with personalities in the news around cutting-edge issues and challenges to the First Amendment, providing first-hand insight and informative inquiry;
  • The weekly newsletter provides a quick read and links to major news, law, scholarship, technology and commentary.

“We’re returning the commentary to a weekly schedule that’s mandated by the intense interest and activity around our core freedoms,” said Policinski. “So many of today’s political issues have a First Amendment component, from a free press and speech in controversial subjects, to the involvement of religion and religious liberty, to our rights to assemble and protest.”

The “First Five” commentary also will feature periodic contributions by other experts at the Institute, including Kristen Farrington, executive director of its Religious Freedom Center.

While the podcasts previously were posted as the interviews were completed and edited, the audio program will now be posted Thursday afternoons as part of the weekly distribution. The commentary is provided without charge to any requesting news operation, print or online, and currently goes out to about 200 news outlets.

The “First Five” podcast also features a periodic special episode, “Free Spirits,” in which a panel of First Amendment experts seated in a Washington, D.C., restaurant have a lively discussion on major free expression and religious liberty developments.

“The newsletter aims to be a quick roundup of the major First Amendment developments of the week,” said Nott. “The podcasts provide unique perspective and put the public in touch with the newsmakers or experts involved in some of the most significant policy debates or legislative proposals of our time.”

About the Freedom Forum Institute

The Freedom Forum Institute is the education and outreach partner of the Freedom Forum and the Newseum. The Institute includes the First Amendment Center, the Religious Freedom Center, the Newseum’s education department and diversity and inclusion programs. The Freedom Forum Institute’s affiliate organizations include the Al Neuharth Media Center at the University of South Dakota; the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi; and the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University. The Freedom Forum Institute is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including its principal funder, the Freedom Forum.

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Sonya Gavankar
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