A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Scholarship recognizes commitment to First Amendment ideals

By Quill

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Those 45 words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, written more than 200 years ago, are the foundation for today’s free press.

SPJ believes the press has a responsibility to use that freedom to report and inform the American people so that they are equipped to make decisions regarding their lives and their local and national communities.

Accurate, complete reporting requires access to information, and SPJ is committed to maintaining that access.

This year, SPJ, with the help of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, will recognize a student member of SPJ who has demonstrated outstanding service to the First Amendment through the field of journalism. The student will receive a scholarship to participate in the 2006 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference.

The Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment award was established by the Lewis family through the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the educational and charitable foundation that supports the work of SPJ and other journalism efforts.

The award honors Lewis, who was president of SPJ in 1985-86. Before that, Lewis was chairman of the National Freedom of Information Committee from 1978 to 1983. He was awarded the Society’s Wells Memorial Key in 1980, recognizing his exemplary service to the organization.

To apply for this scholarship, students complete a letter of interest documenting their service to the First Amendment, as well as any other documentation that helps to illustrate their service; a one-page biography; a résumé; and up to three letters of recommendation. Send applications to Heather Porter, SPJ, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208. Or, e-mail hporter@spj.org. The deadline to apply is June 1.

This scholarship is open to active student members of SPJ.

Founded in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public foundation that is dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. Its goal is to support the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and to serve the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism.