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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

USA Today editor discusses America's view of the press

First Amendment rights and the freedom of the press must not be tampered with, said the editor of USA Today on Thursday night.

Ken Paulson defended the media and press at the Freedom of Information Summit at Emerson Alumni Hall.

Opening with a joke about the recent UF conflict, Paulson brought humor to the subject of freedom of the press and the First Amendment.

"John Kerry spoke an hour. No wonder they brought out the tasers," he said.

Paulson has been a part of the journalism world for three decades and remembers when journalists were seen as superheroes. He pointed out that three comic book icons, Superman, the Green Hornet and Spiderman, also had jobs in the media.

"I think I'm the only kid in America whose heart beat faster when Clark Kent came on the scene," he said.

But he says journalists are no longer seen as "good guys." They are seen as unethical, sleazy and invasive.

"I worry about the future of free press, and I wonder how we're going to protect and defend it," he said.

But Paulson said not only the American public's view of the press and journalism needs to change. The change also needs to come from within the newsroom, he said.

"As an industry, we're doing a lousy job of defending the First Amendment," he said.

Paulson believes it is the job of journalists to be the watchdogs of the government.

Americans want the media to reflect their own biases, Paulson said.

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He says journalists are not the only ones who need to protect their First Amendment rights.

Paulson is starting an ad campaign called the Liberty Tree Initiative, which promotes the First Amendment and freedom of the press.

"I think we need to market the First Amendment back to the American people," he said.

Paulson said journalists need to stand up for what they are doing, and you don't change the path of the nation by being polite.

The real heroes of American journalism help fuel freedoms by covering issues such as civil rights and wars.

Paulson said newspapers will be around for a long time to come, and he quoted his favorite movie, "Deadline-U.S.A."

" 'That's the press baby, the press. And there is nothing you can do about it,' " Paulson quoted.

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