Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment
Center, is a veteran journalist whose career has included work in newspapers,
radio, television and online operations.
Policinski oversees operations and programs of the center, which has offices
in Nashville, at Vanderbilt University; and in Washington, D.C. He also is
co-author of the weekly syndicated newspaper column, "Inside the First
Amendment," and executive producer/host of the touring multimedia stage
production, "Freedom Sings."
Policinski came to the Freedom Forum in 1996 from USA TODAY, where he
was a founding editor and held various news executive positions. He began his
journalism career in 1969 in Indiana, where he worked as a newspaper reporter
and later as state bureau chief for Gannett News Service. In 1980, he became a
correspondent in the GNS Washington bureau, reporting on Congress, politics and
In 1982, he was named Washington editor of USA TODAY during its
development period, and he held that post when it launched on Sept. 15. In 1983,
he was named a Page One editor. In 1985, he was named deputy managing
editor/sports and later was named managing editor/sports. He is the founding
editor of USA TODAY Baseball Weekly (now Sports Weekly). From 1991
through 1993, he was the on-air host of three news, sports and information
programs on USA TODAY Sky Radio. He also helped develop USA TODAY’s first
In April 1996, he joined the Freedom Forum as a journalist in residence,
directing a special Olympic Games program, and in September was named special
assistant to the chairman and chief executive officer. Since joining the
foundation, he has held a number of executive roles, and was Washington editor
for the First Amendment Center’s Web site in 1999. Also, he was host and writer
for of “Newseum Radio,” a one-hour program that aired on National Public Radio
Worldwide from 1997 to 2001. And he was executive producer of “Speaking Freely,"
a weekly interview program, which aired nationwide on public television from
2001 to 2005.
Policinski was named deputy director of the First Amendment Center in June
2000. He became executive director in 2004 and vice president in 2007.
A lecturer and consultant on journalism issues ranging from newsroom ethics
to new media, Policinski is a member of the board of trustees of the Newspaper Association of America Foundation and the board of
governors of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Mid-South
chapter. He is an adjunct professor at Winthrop University in South Carolina and
a member of the journalism alumni board at Ball State University in Indiana.
Policinski was born in South Bend, Ind. He is a graduate of Ball State and attended the Nashville School of Law. He is married to Kathleen B. Powell,
an educator. They have two sons.
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