Paul K. McMasters
First Amendment Ombudsman
The Freedom Forum

Paul K. McMasters is First Amendment Ombudsman for The Freedom Forum. McMasters is one of the nation's leading experts on First Amendment and press issues. He is a 31-year veteran of journalism who came to The Freedom Forum in 1992 to serve as executive director of The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. Before that, he was associate editorial director of USA TODAY.

In 1995, he assumed his current role as First Amendment Ombudsman at The Freedom Forum's headquarters in Arlington, Va. As ombudsman, he works to educate and inform about First Amendment issues that arise in Congress, the courts, the media, and other areas of public life.

McMasters speaks and writes frequently on all aspects of First Amendment rights and values, in particular free speech, free press, censorship, journalism ethics, and access to government information. Media appearances include NBC's "Today" show, PBS's "NewsHour," CNN's "Larry King Live," "Crossfire," and "Burden of Proof," MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News Channel, Court TV and Newstalk TV. 

He has testified before a number of government commissions and congressional committees, most recently the Senate Sub-Committee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information; the Moynihan Commission on Government Secrecy; the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology; and the House Judiciary Committee.
His most recent publications include a chapter titled "A First Amendment Perspective on Public Journalism" in Mixed News: The Public/Civic/ Communitarian Journalism Debate. His essay, "Free Speech versus Civil Discourse: Where Do We Go From Here?" was selected for inclusion in the college reader, Ten Things Every American Government Student Should Read.

McMasters is active in a number of press groups and is the former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the nation's largest and most broad-based press organization. He also served four years as the National Freedom of Information chair for the SPJ and now serves as president of the SDX Foundation, the education arm of SPJ.

McMasters is a charter member of the Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of the 2000 John Peter and Anna Catherine Zenger Award for Freedom of the Press and the People's Right to Know, awarded each year by the University of Arizona. Among other awards he has received is the Wells Memorial Key, the highest award of the Society of Professional Journalists, and distinguished service awards from the Newspaper Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the Student Press Law Center.

October 17, 2001

Other Honors for P.K.McMasters

Return to Board Page