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Journalism student wins SPJ First Amendment Award

Aug 4, 2020

Posted in: News

Hannah Eason

Robertson School broadcast journalism senior Hannah Eason was honored today with the national Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) for her work at The Commonwealth Times. The award "honors an SPJ student member who has demonstrated outstanding service to the First Amendment through their work in journalism."

SPJ wrote the following on its website about the award announcement: "When issues of The Commonwealth Times, the independent student newspaper for Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, were being cleared from the racks Eason investigated and documented the theft. She saw someone who she recognized as an SGA member taking the papers. The issue featured a front-page story, written by Eason, critical of the University’s Student Government Association."

SPJ’s Journalism Education Committee wrote the following: “Hannah’s social media posts regarding censorship of the CT Times story that she wrote, which was critical of the university’s student government, caught the attention of local media and a state legislator, bringing an entire community of students and journalists together to condemn acts of censorship. As Hannah’s story unfolded, the Virginia legislature passed the very timely House Bill 36, which affirmed the rights of student journalists at public institutions of higher education to exercise freedom of speech and the press in institution-sponsored media. Hannah’s commitment to freedom of the press surely provided inspiration for passage of a law that recognizes the importance of First Amendment rights for student journalists.”

Eason, who serves as managing editor of The Commonwealth Times this year, will be recognized virtually during the SPJ Conference next month.