Kansas State Polytechnic’s Civic Luncheon Lecture Series to explore First Amendment rights

By Julee Cobb

Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will lead a presentation on "Free Speech in Times of Crisis" at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus on Feb. 16.

Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will lead a presentation on “Free Speech in Times of Crisis” at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus on Feb. 16.

In a time where the legitimacy of news and journalism is being challenged and freedom of speech as a whole has taken center stage in the public eye, Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus will explore the principles of the country’s First Amendment in its latest Civic Luncheon Lecture Series.

“Free Speech in Times of Crisis” will be presented at noon Thursday, Feb. 16, at Kansas State Polytechnic’s College Center conference room. Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will lead the discussion. Bob Protzman, general manager of Rocking M Media, will act as the moderator.

The First Amendment grants U.S. citizens the right to express their opinions, including times when society is under stress. This presentation will look at the reasons free speech is protected and provide current examples of how it’s being questioned. Wolgast, who previously worked in newspaper journalism for 19 years, including nine years as an editor at The New York Times, also will cover the topics of news bias and the popularity of the term “fake news.”

“One of the jobs the press has is to hold a mirror to society,” Wolgast said. “That’s why we have to report on the failings of government and institutions, even if it upsets the powers that be. If the press can motivate people to act when things aren’t going well, then by one measure the press has succeeded.”

The Civic Luncheon Lecture Series is free and the public is invited. Attendees are welcome to eat during the discussion, and can bring their own lunch or purchase a lunch at the K-State Café and then bring their tray into the conference room.

Greg Stephens, an associate professor of communication and business management at Kansas State Polytechnic, created the Civic Luncheon Lecture Series to provide the campus and the community with an opportunity to learn about and participate in various current events impacting local issues. This presentation, in particular, is made possible in part by the Kansas Humanities Council. For more information on the series, contact Stephens at 785-819-6887 or gregs@k-state.edu.