Program about student press, free speech rights to kick-off First Amendment celebration

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the nonprofit Student Press Law Center, will speak about student press and free speech rights during a presentation at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, at Western Carolina University.

Sponsored by The Western Carolinian, the program will be held in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center. It is open to the public free of charge.

LoMonte’s presentation is funded in part by a 2010-11 Louis Ingelhart First Amendment Award Grant from the College Media Association to The Western Carolinian. The newspaper staff is using the $250 grant to help elevate awareness of First Amendment freedoms on campus.

Director of the Student Press Law Center since January 2008, LoMonte was previously an attorney with an Atlanta firm, where he had a diverse commercial practice focusing on energy and telecommunications litigation. He also has more than 12 years experience as a journalist, including serving two years as a state capitol reporter for the Florida Times-Union, nine years as bureau chief for the Morris News Service in Atlanta, and two years as Washington correspondent for Morris.

Since early 2005, LoMonte has been a member of the Student Press Law Center’s Attorney Referral Network, a group of about 150 attorneys across the country who serve, on a pro bono basis, to represent student journalists facing legal conflicts.

The Student Press Law Center is a legal assistance agency devoted to educating high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the First Amendment and supporting the student news media as it covers important issues.

The Jan. 24 program will kick off a semester-long “Celebration of the First Amendment” sponsored by WCU’s Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Undergraduate Studies. The activities are part of an initiative through the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan, designed to enhance the educational experience of students with thematic and interdisciplinary learning opportunities.