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Media Institute Inaugurates Cornerstone Project

National Education Campaign Will Celebrate First Amendment

FOR RELEASE: October 31, 2000

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute


Washington, Oct. 31 - The Media Institute today launched a far-reaching public education campaign in celebration of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and press. The campaign's theme is summed up in a poster unveiled at a Washington news conference today: Free Speech: The Language of America.

Conceived as a three-year program, the Cornerstone Project will feature a variety of projects and activities reaching all segments of the public. These will include public service announcements for print and broadcast media; traveling exhibits; books and publications; articles and op-ed pieces; and a national symposium in Washington, D.C., next year.

"One of the Cornerstone Project's principal themes will be the diversity of expression afforded all Americans," said Media Institute President Patrick D. Maines.

The first of the "Cornerstone Papers," a series of essays on First Amendment topics, was released today. The inaugural essay by constitutional scholar Robert Peck discusses the public's ambivalent attitude toward protecting speech as demonstrated in recent surveys.

Funding for the Cornerstone Project has already been provided by six organizations making up the project's Advisory Board: the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Newspaper Association of America (NAA), American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), National Cable Television Association (NCTA), and Gannett Foundation. NAB, NAA, AAAA, and MPA are the project's Founding Sponsors. Maines hopes to add more contributors -- financial and in-kind -- as Cornerstone gains momentum.

The project has also assembled an Advisory Council comprising 10 journalism, book, and free-speech nonprofits that will provide advice and in-kind help.

Cornerstone Project Advisory Council members include the American Library Association; American Society of Magazine Editors; American Society of Newspaper Editors; Association of American Publishers; Freedom of Expression Foundation; Media Coalition; Radio-Television News Directors Association; Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Society of Professional Journalists; and The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

"Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of our democracy. With the help of our Advisory Board and Council members, the Cornerstone Project will take that message to America over the next three years," Maines said.