Lobby for the First Amendment

Application deadline is now Oct. 4.
Sign-up information is below.

Learn how to lobby for a free press

Not all college journalists become professional journalists. Many want to be activists, policymakers or even politicians. They want to do good, instead of investigate evil.

Does this sound like you?

Then you might like this project. Lobby for the First Amendment is a special political track at the National College Media Convention.

You’ll learn the government game from pro lobbyists, and then you’ll go to Capitol Hill to lobby legislators’ offices on causes near and dear to all our hearts: Maintaining a free press and an open government.

Best of all, you’ll still have time to attend other convention sessions and events. But you’ll spend a few focused hours per day learning skills you won’t find in any textbook or Google search.

How does the lobbying project work?

When you register for Lobby for the First Amendment, your work begins a month before the convention. You’ll sign up for one of two Skype group calls with a professional DC lobbyist, who will help you set up appointments with a legislative office.

Which office? Simple: One that represents the district where you grew up and your parents live. Why? Because you and/or your parents vote there, and that’s enough to catch the attention of most people in Congress.

On Thursday, Oct. 31 — the convention’s opening day — you’ll attend a pair of sessions to prepare you for the next day’s visit to Capitol Hill.

On Friday, Nov. 2, you’ll take a tour of the place, then visit with a legislator’s staff and make your cause’s case.

On Saturday, Nov. 2, join us for breakfast to review what we’ve learned — and the interesting places we can go from there.

Who runs the project?

Lynn Walsh is the project director. Her day job is assistant director of the Trusting News Project. Walsh is past president of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s largest journalism organization. She’s currently SPJ’s ethics chair and directs SPJ’s Facebook training program for journalists.

Joe Cohn is legislative and policy director for the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education. He has testified in the House of Representatives and has traveled the country lobbying state lawmakers on a variety of First Amendment issues. Cohn is a lawyer and adjunct law professor with a master’s in government administration.

Lobbyit is a DC lobbying firm with clients ranging from the National Child Care Association to the National Sporting Goods Association, and from the American Jail Association to the National Pasta Association. It works in sectors including defense, education, health care and transportation.

How to sign up

Sign up as you register for the convention. If you’ve already registered, use the modify link within your convention registration email confirmation.


These are just the rough facts. If you have specific questions or suggestions, we welcome them. Email SPJ national director Michael Koretzky.


Lobby for the First Amendment is the first project sponsored by these organizations —