'Think F1rst' vital message for public to hear from media

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

You may have seen “Think F1rst” advertisements in the Gazette over the past few months, and we’ll be placing more of them in the future.

The ads, an attempt to educate Americans about the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment, were created last year by the nonprofit Media of Nebraska. The effort came after members noted that many Americans lacked even a basic knowledge of the First Amendment, particularly in articulating the five freedoms that it guarantees.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center found that nearly four in 10 students couldn’t name even one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

In today’s political climate, where anything one doesn’t agree with, or which casts one in a bad light is branded “fake news,” it’s especially important that one of the five, Freedom of the Press, not be neglected.

Easily lost in the discussion is the difference between traditional media, actually using a “press,” and broadcast media, which can only operate with the permission of the government, through licensing by the Federal Communications Commission.

Broadcast restrictions don’t apply to the internet per se, but support is growing for regulation of social media giants like Facebook, and the first thing despots worldwide shut down is access to the Worldwide Web.

Another vital freedom, the personal Freedom of Speech, is being eroded by institutionalized political correctness, enforced by human resource departments, state and federal law and media dogma.

Changes in judiciary at every level from state to national could and have restricted the other three freedoms: Religion, Freedom to Peaceably Assemble and Freedom to Petition.

Without diligence and knowledge, each can be restricted with seemingly common-sense arguments — public safety, law and order, or, again, political correctness.

Members of Media of Nebraska are justifiably proud that more than 20 state broadcast associations and press associations have asked their respective members to support the “Think F1rst” campaign on a pro bono basis.

It will air on radio and televisions stations, appear in newspapers and the websites and social media platforms of those same entities that opt to carry the messages, from Aug.. 1 through Dec. 31, 2019.

When “Think F1rst” debuted in Nebraska in 2018, the dedicated website, www.ThinkFirstAmendment.org attracted over 400,000 page views within 60 days.

“The reality is, we aren’t really free if we don’t know what our freedoms are and don’t exercise them,” said Ariel Roblin, chairperson of the Nebraska Broadcasters Association and president / general manager of KETV in Omaha.

“We felt so strongly about the importance of this message that the respective foundations of the Nebraska Press Association and Nebraska Broadcasters Association agreed to pay for the new creative to be used across the country,” said Allen Beermann, executive director of the Nebraska Press Association. “Preserving the First Amendment has now become a joint effort.”

Clark Creative Group of Omaha also made an in-kind contribution to the production costs.

“The creative approach for the Think F1rst campaign was a strong collaboration between Media of Nebraska and Clark Creative Group. We thought it was important to represent ‘We the people’ in this important campaign and we are thrilled to see ‘Think F1rst’ spreading across America.”

Accurate, unbiased information is vital for our society and system of government to function. Spreading the word about our basic freedoms is one of the most important roles media can play.

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