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 one of several founding editors 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 other issues.
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 online ventures.
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 faculty member 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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