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James Madison Award

James Madison Award

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are two of the linchpins of American democracy. The Scripps Howard First Amendment Center in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information annually recognizes a Kentuckian who has made an outstanding contribution to the First Amendment.

The James Madison Award, created in 2006, honors the nation’s fourth president, whose extraordinary efforts led to the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Nominees must have significant ties to Kentucky, and their efforts must have resulted in the preservation or expansion of freedom of the press and/or freedom of speech. The award recognizes a long-term commitment to these ideals.

Kentucky New Era opinions editor Jennifer Brown, left, and publisher Taylor Hayes are pictured at the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center event. Brown was the 2013 winner of the James Madison Award. (Photo from UK)

On behalf of the late Mike Farrell, long time director of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the university, his wife Marsha, son David Farrell, and grandchildren accept the James Madison Award from Judith G. Clabes (Second from Right), the CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation, during the annual First Amendment Celebration in the UK Gatton Student Center, October 1, 2019.
(Photo by Yung Soo Kim/ UK School of Journalism and Media)

The Scripps Howard First Amendment Center encourages recognition of those outside the journalism profession for their contributions to protect or expand First Amendment freedoms. Nominees may include, educators, lawyers, judges, scholars, librarians, students or ordinary citizens.

The Madison Award recognizes those who have labored or taken a stand in one or more of these areas: open government and open records; robust debate in the marketplace of ideas; promotion of the watchdog role of the press; defense against government or private censorship.

The nominator must submit a letter identifying the nominee, listing the nominee’s address, phone number and position, and explaining why the nominee would be a worthy recipient. The letter should detail the specific efforts taken on behalf of First Amendment rights and should discuss obstacles and difficulties as well as the impact of the nominee’s efforts. The nominator may include up to three letters of support as well as other materials such as published or broadcast information.

Entries will be reviewed by a committee that will include previous winners and the director of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center. The committee will have the option of not selecting a recipient if it does not believe any candidate is deserving.


Past award winners:

2006 Judith G Clabes
2007 Jon L. Fleischaker
2008 Tom Loftus
2009 David Hawpe
2010 John Nelson
2011 Al Smith
2012 Kim Greene
2013 Jennifer P. Brown
2014 Steve Lowery
2015 Al Cross
2016 Amye Bensenhaver
2017 Deborah Yetter
2018 Jeremy Rogers
2019 Mike Farrell

2020 Kentucky Kernel

Send nomination letters for the 2021 James Madison Award via e-mail to John Cruz, School of Journalism and Media Projects Manager, at by Friday, November 5, 2021. 


The 2021 James Madison Award will be presented during the 2021 State of the First Amendment Address, Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 5-6:30pm.