SPLC’s Mike Hiestand Accepts Louis Ingelhart First Amendment Award

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By: Press Release | Student Press Law Center

Mike Hiestand, who over the last 20 years at the Student Press Law Center has provided direct legal assistance to more than 14,500 high school and college journalists and advisers, received the esteemed Louis Ingelhart First Amendment Award at this weekend’s National College Media Convention in Orlando.

Hiestand, a former SPLC staff attorney, now serves as a consulting attorney, working from his home in Washington state. He was selected for the award by the board of College Media Advisers.

The namesake of the award, Louis Ingelhart was a beloved journalism professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.  He dedicated much of his life to studying, writing and teaching the First Amendment. Ingelhart helped form the SPLC in its modern incarnation, and was a longtime member of its national executive board. He died in 2007.

Mark Witherspoon, a former College Media Advisers president and editorial adviser of the Iowa State Daily, nominated Hiestand for the award due to his years of dedicated service to the student press.

“In his almost 20 years of serving the college and high school media, Mike Hiestand has helped more students than many advisers and teachers, and he has helped them in a time when they needed help the most,” Witherspoon said. “His wise legal advice presented in his calm, reassuring tone not only provided students and advisers with the information they needed, but also helped them understand that it was not the end of the world, although it might have seemed like it at the time. I don’t know anyone who deserved this award more than Mike.”

SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte said the award – which is given out only on rare occasions when CMA recognizes a career of exceptional achievement – is a fitting capstone to Hiestand’s two decades of public service.

“When you think about the people who exemplify Louis Ingelhart’s dedication to the betterment of student journalism, you have to put Mike Hiestand right at the top of the list,” LoMonte said. “For 20 years, Mike has given his all — nights, weekends, holidays — to make this world a better place to teach and learn journalism. That is a legacy that puts him up with Louis Ingelhart among the giants who’ve made a profound difference in this field, and with this award, CMA has recognized Mike’s rightful place in the pantheon of press freedom. All of us in the SPLC family are proud to be associated with Mike, who is such a humble and decent person that he never would have sought this kind of recognition for himself.”

“I am so very grateful for having had the opportunity to do work that I love and believe in for more than two decades,” said Hiestand. “Louis’s commitment to the cause of student press freedom and unwavering support for the Student Press Law Center in its early years made that possible. He was kind, but fiercely passionate about the importance of instilling in our next generation an appreciation and respect for a free press. I count him among my biggest roles models and am deeply honored by this award.”

Hiestand has spoken to thousands of high school and college students at national journalism conventions across the country. He is the primary author of the SPLC’s Law of the Student Press book and online educational materials, and writes the long-running monthly column “It’s the Law,” for the National Scholastic Press Association and the Associated Collegiate Press. He is a graduate of Marquette University’s College of Journalism and Cornell Law School.

College Media Advisers represents those who advise the nation’s collegiate newspapers, yearbooks magazines, electric and online media. It has more than 700 members nationwide. 

Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has been devoted to educating high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the First Amendment, and supporting the student news media in covering important issues free from censorship. The Center provides free information and educational materials for student journalists and their teachers on a wide variety of legal topics on its website at www.splc.org.  

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