By Ryan Doucette, Voices at Bedford High School

The New England First Amendment Coalition hosted a First Amendment Forum at Bedford Library on May 13th. The Bedford Citizen coordinated and sponsored the free event. Richard Lodge, the Editor of The Daily News, moderated the discussion.

The meeting commenced with the panelists introducing their background and opinions on the state of the First Amendment.

Jim Campanini, the former editor of the Lowell Sun, stressed the importance that journalists and the First Amendment have on society. “Journalists open government,” Campanini said.

Lisa Kashinsky, a reporter for the Boston Herald, stressed the importance of journalism and the effect their work has on society. “Taking national issues and breaking them down to show how they impact [the people],” Kashinsky said.

Richard Gagliuso, a first amendment lawyer, was more alarmed. “I’m more afraid about the future of the First Amendment now than ever before,” Gagliuso said.

As the meeting progressed, audience members asked questions of the panel.

Grueling and controversial questions about the First Amendment’s impact on individual lives and society proved to be no challenge to the veteran journalists and lawyer.

Campanini blamed many of the problems with the First Amendment on the lack of conversation on these difficult topics. “We used to have [controversial] discussions because we weren’t afraid to offend others,” Campanini said.

As the meeting concluded, all three panelists and moderator urged the audience to consider a few ways to support journalists’ use of the First Amendment, and utilize their own.

“How do we keep honest journalism going,” Campanini said.

“Consider where you get your news,” Lodge said.

The meeting concluded with Gagliuso encouraging the attendees to get involved. “Demand openness from government,” Gagliuso said.

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