Ep31 - Freedom of Speech as a Prerequisite to a Healthy Society, Professor Kathy Kiely


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Our host, Dr. Fethke, dedicates this episode to a remarkable college classmate and friend at a time when she needs everyone’s support. This person is none other than Maria Ressa, the recipient of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, recognized for her tireless efforts over the past three decades to champion Freedom of the Press in the face of overwhelming obstacles. In the words of the Nobel Committee, Maria Ressa received the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Russia’s Dmitry Muratov for "their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace."
In order to do justice to Ressa’s cause, Dr. Fethke has invited a very special and highly knowledgeable guest, Professor Kathy Kiely. She is the Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies at the Missouri School of Journalism. She has worked more than four decades as a reporter and editor for regional and national newspapers as well as online and multimedia publications. She has been recognized for her passionate support of transparency, free speech and education. After a long career covering politics in Washington, Kiely moved into the classroom full-time because, she says, universities are the laboratories that will discover the formula for making fact-based journalism viable again. Kiely has covered regional and national politics for a number of news outlets, including USA TODAY, the New York Daily News, the Houston Post, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Press. She served as an editor for WAMU, Bill Moyers, the Sunlight Foundation, Bloomberg Politics and helped coordinate the National Journal's campaign coverage with CBS News. She also served on the Congressional Standing Committee of Correspondents and on the boards of the National Press Club Journalism Institute and the Daily Princetonian. She holds a master's degree from American University and a bachelor's degree from Princeton University. She is the inaugural Press Freedom Fellow for the National Press Club‘s nonprofit Journalism Institute.
Prof. Kiely is a well recognized advocate of Journalistic Freedom who believes that Maria Ressa’s voice is at an extremely high risk of being silenced by those in power in the Philippines who are threatened by the integrity and truth of her work. Kiely has commented that the Nobel Peace Prize given to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is a warning that across the globe, “forces of darkness and intolerance are on the march… Journalists are the canaries in the mine shaft.
In this episode, Prof. Kiely teaches us why Freedom of Speech and Health are intrinsically linked. Dr. Fethke and Prof. Kiely review the rationale behind the U.S. Consititution’s 1st Amendment protecting free speech and a free press. She then clearly reviews the evolution of digital and social media, with its pros and cons. She defines the concepts of Misinformation and Disinformation, clarifying why the latter is so dangerous to us all. She explains that the Nobel Committee has specifically recognized Maria Ressa because she has led the way for us all to understand the impact of Disinformation and is actively working on solutions to regain the integrity of facts and bring the truth back to journalism. Kiely stresses that the battles that Maria Ressa and her journalist team at Rappler are fighting in the Philippines are critically relevant to the Global pursuit of democracy. As Kiely reminds us, “My father fought in WW2 to defend and help establish a free Philippines. We must never forget that Maria Ressa’s defense of Freedom of the Press is a part of our fathers’ legacies. To do so would be a dishonor to their cause and memory.”


  1. House: https://www.house.gov/
  2. Senate: https://www.senate.gov/
  3. Post office (where you can look up ZIP+4 to get House member's name: https://www.usps.com/

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