One of the cool things about Poynter’s beautiful offices in St. Petersburg, Florida, is something you see just before you step into the building. On the sidewalk, embedded in marble, is the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment also had a prominent place on another building. It was embedded on a giant wall at the Newseum — the interactive museum in Washington, D.C., that celebrated the media, the freedom of the press and expression and the First Amendment. But the Newseum closed to the public at the end of 2019.
And now, in a heartbreaking symbol, the First Amendment on the Newseum building is being dismantled. A troubling reminder of how many Americans now view the media and the freedom of the press, wouldn’t you say?
No announcement has been made, but there is hope it will be reassembled at another location.
Here’s a little more information on the First Amendment wall by the company that built it.
This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.