May 17, 2016
Scholars Among Nation’s Most Talented Students
WASHINGTON — Fifty-one high school journalists, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, will explore the First Amendment and the watchdog role of a free press when they attend the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference. The conference will take place at the Newseum from June 18 to 23.
The Free Spirit program, an initiative of the Newseum Institute, is an annual academic and scholarship program designed to inspire and equip some of the nation’s best and brightest students to pursue journalism and media careers. The program began in 1999 to honor Al Neuharth, the founder of USA TODAY, the Newseum and the Freedom Forum.
The rising high school seniors, chosen from hundreds of applicants, will attend the conference for free, and each will receive a $1,000 college scholarship. A complete list of the 2016 Al Neuharth Free Spirit Journalism Scholars can be found here.
The Newseum Institute works with high school journalism teachers and news organizations throughout the country to recruit applicants and promote the program. Students are required to submit work samples, letters of reference, a transcript and essays about their interest in journalism and their free spirit qualities.
Through presentations, meetings and experiences at the Newseum and elsewhere in Washington, the students will learn about the First Amendment as a cornerstone of democracy and the vital role of a free and responsible press. Students will study the three branches of government and how journalists cover them.
In addition to touring the Newseum, students will visit the U.S. Capitol and the headquarters of USA TODAY, attend a taping of NBC’s “Meet the Press” with host Chuck Todd at the NBC News studio in Washington, and participate in a program on social media and the First Amendment with U.S. District Court Senior Judge Royce C. Lamberth.
Students also will take part in the presentation of the annual Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media on June 21 at the Newseum, which will be given to ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman. The veteran broadcaster is the first sports journalist to receive the award, which honors lifetime achievements and is co-sponsored by Neuharth’s alma mater, the University of South Dakota.
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.