First Amendment Congress / Essay Contest for High School & College Students

FOI Oklahoma's 11th Annual First Amendment Congress will be Oct. 28-29. Updates on the event will be on the FOI OK Web site. We're also conducting our annual First Amendment Essay Contest for high school and college students in conjunction with the congress. Below is information on the congress and the essay contest.

High School Day
Tom Steed Center, Rose State College
Wednesday, Oct. 28

Today’s generation has embraced a new way of communicating, and this new social media is transforming how we share information. Sessions for High School Day include:

• A debate between two Oklahoma high school teams on the impact of Internet News, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and other new media on traditional journalism.

• The First Amendment Rights of High School Students (Yes, you have them!)

• Smart Social Networking: You like to share your life online, but should you always hit send? The glory and the pitfalls of communicating in cyberspace.

The First Amendment Congress is ideal for students in social studies, journalism and government classes, and an excellent opportunity for student leaders, teachers and school administrators.

Professional / College Day (ALSO open to the General Public)
The Oklahoman Tower, 9000 N. Broadway
Thursday, Oct. 29

Our special guest for the day will be Marvin Kalb, award-winning journalist and moderator of The Kalb Report.

For more than 200 years, America has depended on its press—the Fourth Estate—to be the watchdog of government. The growth of Internet news sites, blogs, and other social media — coupled with the economic downturn — make it increasingly difficult for traditional news media to stay in business. For those that can hang on, many are cutting staff and are unable to fund the investigative journalism that has exposed wrong-doing in the past. Where is the press heading in this new environment?

We’ll explore the Fairness Doctrine, look at the business side of journalism, and discuss how we can make sure a watchdog role remains preeminent during this journalistic transition.

Professional Day features CLEs for Attorneys!

First Amendment Essay Contest
Oklahoma high school students and college undergraduates can win cash prizes by entering the 2009 First Amendment Congress Essay Contest, sponsored by FOI Oklahoma Inc. Entrants have until Oct. 2 to submit their essays.

For this year's essay, young writers are asked to consider the question: "What is the impact of Internet news, blogs, and social networking sites on the traditional role of the media as a watchdog of government activity?"

Entries should be about 500 words, typed, double-spaced, including the student's name, grade, school, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address. Entries must be e-mailed to The Oklahoman's News Research Editor, Linda Lynn, at

Prizes will be awarded to the first-, second-, and third-place winners in both high school and college categories.

High School winners will be recognized on Oct. 28 during the First Amendment Congress Education Day at Tom Steed Center in Midwest City. College winners will be honored Oct. 29 during the event's Professional Day at The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City.

For questions concerning the essay contest, contact Linda Lynn at 405-475-3676. For information about the 2009 First Amendment Congress, contact Kay Bickham at 405-341-3169.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.