Nicholson News

A Public Service on Behalf of the First Amendment

November 20, 2017

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that all citizens have the right to freedom of speech. It is a concept that means different things to different people, but one NSC student has created a public service announcement to remind everyone of what could happen without that freedom. Ali Akbari, a radio-television major at NSC, used a class project from his audio production class as a submission for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Educational Foundation’s Freedom of Speech PSA contest. His submission earned first place and a $2,500 scholarship.

The Freedom of Speech PSA is a challenging assignment that requires students to think about the meaning of the First Amendment. William Kinnally, Ph.D., has incorporated the contest into his audio production courses every semester; he created an assignment that requires students to use skills such as writing for an audience, recording, producing and synthesizing the concepts studied in class into a brief, public message. Akbari was excited to submit his work for the contest.

“The PSA asked me to express what freedom of speech means to me,” said Akbari, who is a senior from Iran. “I used all the skills I learned in class to assemble a project for my portfolio. I spent a lot of time on this project and was drawn to the idea of presenting it outside of class.”

Kinnally modeled his assignment after the contest, but doesn’t require students to submit work for it. He is proud of Akbari for drawing on his personal experiences to create and submit his PSA.

“Ali’s project was especially effective because he described the concept accurately and did it in a way that made it a part of his own personal story,” said Kinnally, who is an associate professor of radio-television. “He used descriptive language and a conversational style to tell that story and that makes the message so effective.”

Akbari described in the PSA that certain speech has consequences that are avoided in the U.S. because of the First Amendment.

“I consider the freedom of speech to be such an important gift,” said Akbari. “Not being bound to certain governmental limitations is truly a gift that is sometimes taken for granted. I hope freedom of speech becomes a universal right, regardless of where we live.”

In addition to first place and the $2,500, Akbari’s PSA was used in promoting Free Speech Week across the U.S. from October 16-22. Akbari’s PSA can be found at here. The PSA contest is held once a year and has an April deadline. For more information please visit