JMC candidate talks censorship

Emily Andrews

“Lose Yourself” by Eminem was the song playing before John Irby began his lecture on the First Amendment and how it was at risk.

Irby said he played the song not because he liked Eminem, but because the message makes him feel like the First Amendment is worth fighting for.

The title of today’s lecture was “First Amendment at Risk: Free Speech in Today’s Schools.” It is the first of four lectures given by the candidates for the Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism.

“The person in this job has to be passionate and can lobby to get the point across effectively,” Irby said.

In the lecture, he discussed the First Amendment and censorship using a slide show and video clips.

He showed a video from that was titled “The First Amendment.” This video had freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of petition and freedom of religion but it did not include freedom of press. He said he is sure it was just an oversight, but he has seen this oversight in textbooks, and it needs to change.

He said there is a great battle fighting apathy and ignorance. Censorship is evolving as technology is evolving, he said.

He told the story of a blogger who was jailed because he wouldn’t hand over a video he had of a protest.

He said some ways to help with censorship are to assess what the story is about and keep it simple, be prepared for the unexpected, take stories from the past and use emotion.

“He was very effective and knows what he is talking about,” journalism instructor John Bowen said.

Irby has held a variety of positions, including associate professor, journalism degree program coordinator and associate director in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University. He also has more than 25 years of newspaper experience.

“I think I can make a big difference working with the next generation,” Irby said.

He ended his lecture by playing Paul McCartney’s song “Freedom.”

The next lecture will be given by Mark Goodman on Feb. 22.

Contact College of Communication and InformationEmily Andrews at [email protected].