Mar 11, 2010

51 HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS FROM ACROSS THE USA SELECTED FOR SCHOLARSHIPS, WASHINGTON JOURNALISM CONFERENCE

2010 Al Neuharth Free Spirit Journalism Scholars Announced

Media contact: Jonathan Thompson, 202/292-6353

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fifty-one high school students from across the United States who are interested in pursuing journalism careers and have qualities of "free spirit" have been selected to participate in the annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit Scholarship and Journalism Conference program March 13 to 18 at the Newseum, the interactive museum of news in Washington, D.C.

One top student will receive a $10,000 college scholarship. The other 50 students will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. The top winner will be announced at a Free Spirit Award ceremony at the Newseum on March 17.

Twenty-one U.S. newspapers joined the Freedom Forum in soliciting applications from high school seniors. Applicants were required to provide samples of their journalistic work and write an essay on free spirit. Scholarship winners — one from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia — were selected through a competitive process.

"These students have such amazing spirit and enthusiasm," Neuharth said. "I truly believe that if they continue to dream, dare and do, they can accomplish anything."

The scholarship winners will be brought to Washington to receive their awards and participate in a journalism conference. During the conference, the scholars will tour several media organizations and join in sessions led by noted broadcast and print journalists and newsmakers, including Tom Brokaw, who will be a special guest moderator of NBC's "Meet the Press" on March 14; USA TODAY reporter Donna Leinwand; Orage Quarles III, president and publisher of The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C. Other guests include Bob Schieffer, moderator of CBS's "Face the Nation," and Krishna Bharat, Google Distinguished Research Scientist, who will participate in a taping of the Newseum's "The Future of News" to be aired on public television.

The Al Neuharth Free Spirit Awards recognize top high school journalism seniors who are free spirits. It was established by the Freedom Forum to honor Al Neuharth, the founder of the Freedom Forum and USA TODAY. The scholarships and conference program are designed to assist and inspire students who are pursuing journalism careers. The Close Up Foundation assists the Freedom Forum in administering the program.

"The Free Spirit Conference is an educational opportunity for all of us," said Charles L. Overby, chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute. "These bright scholars get learning opportunities with top media professionals, and their drive and enthusiasm inspire us in turn."

The Freedom Forum, based in Washington, D.C., is a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people. The foundation focuses on three priorities: the Newseum, the First Amendment and newsroom diversity.

The Freedom Forum is the main funder of the operations of the Newseum, an interactive museum of news in Washington, D.C.; the First Amendment Center; and the Diversity Institute. The First Amendment Center and the Diversity Institute are housed in the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. The First Amendment Center also has offices in Washington and the Diversity Institute has offices and programs at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

The Freedom Forum was established in 1991 under the direction of Founder Al Neuharth as successor to a foundation started in 1935 by newspaper publisher Frank E. Gannett. The Freedom Forum is not affiliated with Gannett Co. Its work is supported by income from an endowment of diversified assets.

NOTE TO EDITORS: A complete list of the 51 students will be available at www.freedomforum.org/freespirit. For additional information about the Free Spirit Scholarship and Conference program, please contact the Freedom Forum Communications Department (202/292-6353).

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