The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project

Views on First: War & Speech

Entered in Podcast


The war in Israel and Gaza has unleashed a wave of censorship and suppression in the United States—including by government agencies and officials, university administrators, private companies, and cultural institutions. In “Views on First: War & Speech,” we set out to answer a series of questions: Is our system of free speech failing us? If it is, why is that so? How repressive is the climate we’re living in, really? Are there historical precedents for it? And how might the events unfolding now shift free speech culture and the boundaries of the First Amendment? 

We aimed to balance the nuanced and thoughtful planning that this complicated issue requires with the quick production schedule that breaking news demands.


Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight Institute and First Amendment expert, hosted this season. He interviewed guests from a range of backgrounds, including free speech scholars and advocates, a digital rights researcher, the editor of a campus newspaper, and the dean of a journalism school. Each episode, Jameel and his guest tackled issues that contributed to the current free speech climate: free speech law, campus speech, discrimination law, academic freedom, student journalism, institutional neutrality, and more. 

Over the course of production, news on the free speech climate broke almost daily, and we had to think on our feet. When journalists had difficulty reporting on the crisis at Columbia University—our home institution—we rearranged our release schedule and recorded a live interview with the editor of Columbia’s student newspaper and the dean of Columbia’s journalism school. When, largely in response to student protests, Harvard announced a new “institutional voice” policy, we quickly added a new episode to our season with the co-chair of the group that wrote the policy. As we planned for each interview—whether we had scheduled it far in advance or in response to breaking news—we stayed on top of the news to ensure that Jameel’s questions were responsive to the most current events.


In the two months since its release, “War & Speech” has been downloaded more than 5,600 times. Episodes 3 and 4 of “War & Speech” were downloaded more times in the first 7 days after their release than any episode in the previous season of the Knight Institute’s podcast was. A McGill University professor (who was not featured on the podcast) tweeted “it's striking how generative it can be to reframe this discussion away from the ideological, as [Jameel Jaffer] does with Eugene Volokh” in the podcast. Columbia University and the University of Chicago featured “War & Speech” on their websites. These statistics and shout-outs demonstrate that the public and universities alike turned to “War & Speech” as a source of principled, thoughtful discussion. 


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University


Entry Credits