Knight Chair to help protect free speech

Brittany Senary

Correction: Goodman is furthering Indiana University professor Jack Dvorak’s seminal research on the topic for student media data collection.

When a student is told not to publish a story in a high school or college newspaper about what it’s like to be gay because it might offend someone, it is against the First Amendment. This is exactly what Mark Goodman, Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism, is trying to stop.

“What we see and hear from students is that there is a large amount of censorship in high school media,” Goodman said. “Research has demonstrated how few high school students understand the First Amendment and what it means.”

Goodman came to Kent State last month as the 20th Knight Chair in the country from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to increase scholastic journalism education, journalism quality and freedom of expression. Before Kent State, Goodman was the director of the Student Press Law Center for more than 22 years, which is an agency that educates high school and college journalists about the First Amendment.

Frank LoMonte, the new director of the Student Press Law Center said that Goodman built the SPLC into what it is today.

“When people think of the press center, they immediately think of Mark,” LoMonte said. “He was the leader of the organization for two-thirds of its life. He established the SPLC as a leading voice in the country for First Amendment rights. It is a blow to lose someone of Mark’s stature. He could pick up the phone and get anyone on the other side. His name opens up a lot of doors. Thankfully we still have him as a resource at Kent State and he will still be an ambassador for the SPLC.”

To help teachers understand the First Amendment, a blog will be created that will be linked to the Center of Scholastic Journalism’s Web site.

Candace Perkins Bowen, assistant professor and director of the Center for Scholastic Journalism, said the blog will be geared to help teachers of high school journalism develop lesson plans, advise and to help them find out what other teachers are going through.

Goodman wants to create a First Amendment first aid kit to be handed out to high school media advisers who are new or have had conflicts with the law. The kit will explain the First Amendment and how it applies to journalists.

To help the administrators understand the importance of journalism, Goodman is furthering Indiana University professor Jack Dvorak’s research on students who participated in student media or a school newspaper. He is basing his research on numbers from the American College Testing Corporation that showed students involved in student media scored higher on their SAT and received higher grades during the first year of college than those who did not.

Bowen said one of the main goals of the scholastic journalism program is to promote free speech.

“I couldn’t think of a better person to be doing this than a media lawyer,” Bowen said.

At Kent State, Goodman hopes to co-teach a class with John Bowen, adjunct faculty member, about media law for high school advisors. He also wants to put together an online class with Tim Smith, professor and news coordinator, about the legal issues related to publishing online. The class would focus on what people can post and what they would be legally responsible for. Goodman said he hopes the class would be open to all students because he feels everyone can benefit from it.

Jeff Fruit, director of journalism and mass communications said Goodman is the top person in the field.

“Mark is a proven performer,” Fruit said. “He is well connected, and now that he is with Candace, they will be a dynamic team.”

Contact College of

Communication and Information reporter Brittany Senary

at [email protected].