Rebecca Marsh

Equinox Staff


The Constitution means everything to both the well-being of the United States of America and to the American people. The First Amendment includes many rights pertaining to the people of America, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press. The Got Rights U.S. Constitution Commemoration includes panelists who discussed the rights of the American people and clarified what they said was right versus what is wrong. The third annual Commemoration took place at 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21 at Keene State College. The commemoration dealt with the issues about freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

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There were five panelists who talked about their experiences in journalism, among them Marianne Salcetti, professor of journalism at Keene State College. The moderator was Chad Nye, assistant professor of journalism at Keene State College.

“What we do every year is we try to do some aspect of the first amendment,” Nye said, “but we see what’s relevant, what’s timely, what’s happening in the news, and those were the things that led us to this.”

According to Nye, the Constitution is a “living document” because it will always be present in the lives of Americans in what they do and how they conduct their daily lives.

One idea that came up frequently in the commemoration was the changing use of technology. “There are people who are reluctant to talk to microphones and cameras,” Paul Scheuring, news director for the Monadnock Radio Group in Keene, N.H., said, “and a growing reason why is not everyone with a microphone or a camera is a traditional journalist.”

The use of electronic mail has also changed the way people have conducted meetings to avoid the press. “They (the government) can circulate a document by e-mail where no one is meeting in the traditional sense,” James Rousmaniere, president and editor for the Keene Sentinel, said.

Scheuring expanded on that statement by saying, “It gets to the point where, really, the only way this could be policed is not to allow elected officials to use the internet.”

Michael Brindley, the Metro Editor for the Telegraph National, said, “I think in some ways technology has in some ways enhanced access in some levels.”

The internet can be useful in other situations. “It’s also a nice thing that once a document’s posted to the internet it’s there forever,” Craig Lyons, a reporter for the Daily Sun in Portland, Maine, said.

A member of the audience asked about the life of print journalism and where it is going in the modern world.

According to Brindley, print is “dying a slow, painful death.”

Scheuring had a different idea about print journalism. “There will always be a place for print journalism. Whether that print is on a page or on a computer screen is pretty much the only question left,” Scheuring said.

There’s a big future in print, according to Lyons, but there needs to be some changes.

A few audience members asked questions about how to deal with the criticism that journalists get for their work. The panelists gave advice for how a journalist should act while getting a story and how to effectively write a story.

One of the things reiterated was that a journalist needs to know what he or she can or cannot do in their field. “You have to stand your ground and know your rights,” Brindley said.

There is also some conflict of how far a reporter or journalist should go to get the story. The panelists discussed some roadblocks that are in the journalism field.

“The fact that many governments at the federal level, of both state and global level, are increasingly hiding information that should be public,” Rousmaniere said.

Lyons agreed, “There’s a lot of deterrents to people accessing information.”

Scheuring brought up another point. “Any journalist worth his salt knows more than he’s telling, or she’s telling,” Scheuring said.

According to Scheuring, there is a temptation for a journalist to say everything he or she knows, but he or she may not be able to say it because it could be a conflict of interest or unverifiable.

When the initial question period ended, the panel answered questions from the audience. Some of the questions included the past experiences the panelists have had in journalism and what are some issues and thrills they experience everyday in their line of work. According to senior Lauren Campbell, the commemoration was very informative. She said, “All their knowledge, all the things they had to say, I really appreciated that.”

“So long as people care about what’s happening at city hall and around the schools, there will be an information source for them,” Rousmaniere said.

The Constitution, this “living document,” contains the First Amendment which states that all Americans will have the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, and the freedom of the press. Three out of the four were practiced at the Got Rights? Commemoration. As long as America and the Constitution is around, the American people will practice their rights.


Rebecca Marsh can be contacted at

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