Student journalists recognized with First Amendment awards

Two student media outlets — UW-Milwaukee’s MediaMilwaukee and Marquette University’s Marquette Wire — were recognized with John Patrick Hunter First Amendment awards on Friday, March 8, at the WNA Convention & Trade Show.

July 5, 1951, edition of The (Madison) Capital Times

The awards were presented jointly by the WNA and the Madison Chapter of the Society of Journalists.

John Patrick Hunter was a former The (Madison) Capital Times reporter who defended the First Amendment against McCarthyism during the anti-communist era of Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy.

On July 4, 1951, Hunter circulated a petition at a Madison park that was comprised of sections of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Only one of 112 people canvassed agreed to sign the petition, many of whom said it looked like a Russian document or a radical petition. The incident drew national attention to free speech issues at the height of the Red Scare.

MediaMilwaukee was recognized for its investigation into sexual harassment on the UW-Milwaukee campus, despite early opposition from university officials.

An editorial by Caroline Kaufman and the Marquette Wire editorial board also received a First Amendment award for an editorial about recognizing the importance of college newspapers at a private school.

Beth Bennett, WNA executive director, said it’s important to recognize the work of student reporters who will become the next generation of journalists.  

Sam Martino, coordinator of the WNA-SPJ contest, said there has been a greater focus on First Amendment rights on college campuses because of attempts at restrictions on freedom of speech, press and assembly.