Freedom Forum

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The Freedom Forum is the creator of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., which it sold to Johns Hopkins University in 2019.[1] It is a nonpartisan 501 (c)(3) foundation that advances First Amendment freedoms through initiatives that include the Power Shift Project, the annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, the Chips Quinn Scholars, the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media, the Free Expression Awards, the Journalists Memorial and Today’s Front Pages.[2]

The Freedom Forum was founded in 1991 when the Gannett Foundation, started by publisher Frank E. Gannett as a charitable foundation to aid communities where his company had newspapers, sold its name and assets back to Gannett Company for $670 million. Retired Gannett chairman and USA Today newspaper founder Al Neuharth took the money and the shell of the foundation and formed the Freedom Forum. Its mission was to foster "free press, free speech and free spirit."[3][4]

Neuharth's daughter, Jan A. Neuharth, is chief executive officer and chair of the Freedom Forum.[5]

The Freedom Forum's CEO and chairman from 1989 to 2011 was Charles Overby, a former journalist and editor. From 2001 to 2011, he concurrently served as CEO of the Freedom Forum and director of the board of private prison company CoreCivic, formerly the Corrections Corporation of America.[6] Under Overby, the Freedom Forum donated $5 million to establish the Overby Center at Ole Miss.[7]

The financial losses of the Freedom Forum and Newseum led to criticism of high salaries[8] and some unusual proposals.[9]

In 2021, the Freedom Forum faced criticism for awarding a "Free Expression" award to the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki.[10] YouTube is part of the Freedom Forum "Corporate Membership Program".[11]


  1. ^ Oczypok, Kate (July 15, 2020). "Downtowner DC July 15, 2020". Georgetowner. Retrieved July 27, 2020. Last month, Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University closed on the acquisition of the former Newseum building at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, where the school intends to consolidate some of its D.C. offerings. The debt-ridden Newseum, which opened its D.C. facility in 2008, closed at the end of 2019 after its parent, the nonprofit Freedom Forum — which had been providing an annual subsidy of about $20 million — agreed to the sale.
  2. ^ "About the Freedom Forum". Freedom Forum. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  3. ^ "The Freedom Forum's Shrinking Endowment". American Journalism Review. November 2001. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  4. ^ "About the Freedom Forum". Freedom Forum. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  5. ^ "Freedom Forum's new chair has a familiar name; quiet board reshuffle keeps a Neuharth in control". December 8, 2011. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  6. ^ "Freedom Forum CEO Tied to For-Profit Prisons". January 2010.
  7. ^ "Emails Show UM Officials' Concern over Fired Historian Criticizing Private Prison Ties". 31 July 2021.
  8. ^ "As Freedom Forum posted another $48M deficit, non-profit paid retired CEO Overby nearly $1M; new documents disclose a comical money trail". November 17, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  9. ^ "Heavily in debt, Newseum considered risky strategy to improve finances". July 1, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  10. ^ "YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki gets "Freedom Expression" award sponsored by YouTube". Newsweek. 20 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Corporate Giving | Freedom Forum Institute".

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