Student media at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University each received First Amendment awards Friday at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association convention in Madison.
The WNA and the Madison Chapter of the Society of Journalists partnered to present the schools student media outlets, the Marquette Wire and Media Milwaukee, the awards.
The awards were named after John Patrick Hunter, a former Madison Capital Times reporter, who during the anti-communist era of Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy, defended the First Amendment against McCarthyism.
Hunter had drawn up a petition to circulate to passersby at a Madison park about elements of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights on July 4, 1951.
Only one of 112 people canvassed agreed to sign the petition, some thinking it looked like a Russian document or a radical petition.
The incident drew the attention of the nation’s press and President Harry Truman, who said people were afraid to sign the petition for fear it was some kind of subversive document.
Media Milwaukee received its award for protecting the Freedom of the Press to investigate sexual harassment on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus despite opposition early on from university officials.
An editorial by Caroline Kaufman, recognizing the importance of college newspapers at a private school, also received a First Amendment award.
Beth Bennett, WNA executive director, said it’s important to recognize the work of student reporters who will become the next generation of journalists.
Sam Martino, coordinator of the WNA-SPJ contest, said there has been a greater focus on First Amendment rights on college campuses because of attempts at restrictions on freedom of speech, press and assembly.