Sunday, November 13, 2011

Al Smith to receive James Madison Award

Al Smith, who created "Comment on Kentucky," a statewide forum that has fostered public discussion of Kentucky policy and politics, has been chosen the 2011 recipient of the James Madison Award for service to the First Amendment.

Smith will receive the award on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the annual First Amendment Celebration held by the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center and the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications.

The award is presented annually to a Kentuckian who has made a significant contribution to the values embodied in the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech and of the press. During his distinguished career, Smith was a tireless advocate for open government as a newspaper editor, publisher and industry leader, and television program producer.

“Throughout his distinguished career, Al Smith has promoted and fought for the values that embody our treasured freedoms of expression," Mike Farrell, director of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, said. "His life’s work, as a faithful steward of the First Amendment, has enlightened citizens, invigorated our public discourse and held the powerful accountable. Kentucky has been blessed because Al Smith made the state his home and because journalism was his calling.”

"Comment on Kentucky,” a public affairs program broadcast on Kentucky Educational Television each Friday, debuted in November 1974. Smith was its host, discussing with a panel that included journalists, professors and other experts important issues to Kentucky, until he retired 33 years later.

Smith, of Lexington, is the author of a memoir, Wordsmith: My Life in Journalism, which was published this month.

The Madison Award was created by the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center in 2006 and is awarded annually to a Kentuckian who has made significant contributions to the efforts of a free press or freedom of speech. Smith is the sixth recipient.

The Madison Award will be presented at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 15. Mark Feldstein, former investigative reporter for CNN and ABC News, will then deliver the State of the First Amendment address. The event is free and open to the public in Room 106 of the White Hall Classroom Building on the UK campus.

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