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Merrill College

Merrill College Launches Press Freedom Initiative Funded by $1 Million Grant From First Look Institute

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

First Look Institute logoThe 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.

The new faculty member will also lead a series of programs for journalists, lawyers, educators and advocates of a free press, free speech and national security issues. 

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

First Look Institute, through its Press Freedom Defense Fund, has filled an important role since 2013, both in the United States and overseas, by providing critical funding for legal assistance to journalists and whistleblowers who have been targeted by governments and other powerful figures, most recently supporting Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa. The Press Freedom Defense Fund is now evolving into this new initiative at the University of Maryland, funded by the grant from First Look Institute. 

“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. “We’re thrilled that through this grant, journalism students who either come from countries with a history of repression against reporters or students who come with a commitment to report about such repression, will benefit from this new program.”

“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,” Merrill College 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.”

About First Look Institute:
First Look Institute supports fearless, investigative journalism, innovative and cinematic nonfiction filmmaking, and essential legal support to protect the right to a free and open society and press.

For more information, contact:
Josh Land

Communications Manager, Merrill College

Jeannie Kedas
First Look Media/First Look Institute

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