June 24, 2014

2014 First Amendment Survey: More Support for Student Speech

WASHINGTON — One third of Americans still think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees, according to a new survey on the state of the First Amendment released June 24 by the Newseum Institute.

The survey, conducted in May, determines public knowledge and opinion about the First Amendment and related issues. The results were released June 24 at a luncheon for high school students attending the 2014 Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference.

"It's valuable to know the five freedoms, but it's even more important to know how we can use them," said Gene Policinski, Newseum Institute chief operating officer and senior vice president of the Institute's First Amendment Center.

This year, the survey also found:

  • 69 percent of Americans believe that people who make defamatory comments on social media should be subject to the same legal consequences as someone who makes similar comments on television or in print
  • 68 percent think public high school journalists should not need prior approval to explore controversial subjects.
  • 36 percent defined a journalist as someone who creates stories based on objective fact; 21 percent defined a journalist as someone who works for an established news operation; 16 percent said a journalist is an individual who reports to an audience; 14 percent said a journalist is someone who is paid to gather news
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