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$1M Grant Funds New Press Freedom Initiative

By Josh Land

The University of Maryland is launching a new press freedom initiative funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the nonprofit First Look Institute, the organization and the Philip Merrill College of Journalism announced today.

The initiative will include a three-year appointment for a visiting professor on press freedom who will teach journalism courses related to national security, and global and domestic terrorism and lead a series of programs for journalists, lawyers, educators and advocates.

The gift also establishes scholarships or fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students to promote ideals of press freedom and the First Amendment. Preference will be given to students who hail from or plan to focus their journalism on countries where press freedom doesn't exist or is in jeopardy.

“We are so thankful to First Look Institute for choosing Merrill College to further the mission of the Press Freedom Defense Fund through our educational offerings,” Dean Lucy Dalglish said. “A free press across the globe is integral to defending democracy, and we plan to build on the work done by First Look Institute by incorporating these values into Merrill College's hands-on journalism curriculum and programs in new and exciting ways.”

First Look Institute, through its Press Freedom Defense Fund, since 2013 has provided critical funding for legal assistance to journalists and whistleblowers targeted by governments and other powerful figures, including recently supporting Nobel Peace Prize laureate and free press advocate Maria Ressa. The Press Freedom Defense Fund is now evolving into this new UMD initiative.

“Partnering with such a prestigious academic organization as the University of Maryland that specializes in press freedom issues is the perfect way to continue the spirit of the Press Freedom Defense Fund’s work,” said David Bralow, legal director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund and general counsel of First Look Institute.

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