Sarah Ruger, Director of Free Speech Initiatives, on Why Supporting the Knight First Amendment Institute Matters

A free press is a cornerstone of an open society. It holds the powerful accountable and invites robust engagement on critical issues. Today we see an environment in which the public is losing confidence not just in the reliability of news outlets but potentially in the idea of a free press. Though research suggests this divide is sharpening along ideological and political lines, recent partnerships just as strongly demonstrate the shared desire across different perspectives to understand and address those challenges.

Consider the focus of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Its work to understand and protect free press and free speech has attracted the support of organizations including Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, and Open Society Foundations, just to name a few. And today the Democracy Fund, First Look Media, and the Charles Koch Foundation join in their support. With this support, the Knight Institute will be able to expand its litigation efforts to defend the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age.

Other partners are undertaking critical work on this front as well. American Society of News Editors provides a hotline to equip news rooms across the country with access to legal counsel for open records and journalists facing first amendment threats. We also support outlets like TechDirt building space for coverage dedicated to press freedom issues and nonprofits like the Newseum elevating awareness and support for champions of free expression.

It’s not a stepping stone, this is a cornerstone. Every time people of diverse backgrounds dig in and build the foundation of civil discourse, we are all made better. This is a moment our partners have invested in and we will work to ensure the dividends reach to the academic community, journalism community, and the entire world those professions reach.

To learn more, check out this letter from the Knight Institute’s Executive Director, Jameel Jaffer.

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