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Ken Paulson

President and chief executive officer/First Amendment Center

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Kenneth A. Paulson
Ken Paulson, president and chief executive officer, First Amendment Center
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Ken Paulson is president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center.

Previously, Paulson served as editor and senior vice president/news of USA Today and USATODAY.com. He is now a columnist on USA Today’s board of contributors, writing about First Amendment issues.

For the past 32 years, Paulson has drawn on his background as both a journalist and lawyer, serving as the editor or managing editor of newspapers in five different states and as the executive director of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

He was on the team of journalists who founded USA Today in 1982 before moving on to manage newsrooms in Westchester County, N.Y., Green Bay, Wis., Bridgewater, N.J. and at Florida Today in Brevard County, Fla.

Paulson is also the founder of 1 for All, an unprecedented national campaign on behalf of the First Amendment, launched on July 1, 2010 with support from more than 1,100 news, arts and religious organizations.

Paulson also was the host of the Emmy-honored television program “Speaking Freely,” seen in more than 60 PBS markets nationwide over five seasons, and the author of "Freedom Sings," a multimedia stage show celebrating the First Amendment that continues to tour the nation's campuses.

He was an early advocate of making newspaper content available online, launching online newspapers in both Florida and New York in 1993.

For the past 12 years, Paulson has been a regular guest lecturer at the American Press Institute, speaking to more than 5,000 journalists about First Amendment issues. He recently was honored with the API Lifetime Service Award.

Paulson has been elected to the leadership of the American Society of News Editors and will be president of ASNE in 2011. In 2007, he was named fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists, “the highest honor SPJ bestows upon a journalist for extraordinary contributions to the profession.”

He is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law and the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He also has served as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School and is a member of both the Illinois and Florida bars.

(updated 8/12/10)