Constitution Day Essay Contest Accepting Entries

UK Constitution Day Sept. 18

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 28, 2017) The University of Kentucky will celebrate Constitution Day on Sept. 18 with a full day of activities, but students can begin preparing now by entering an essay contest that comes with a bunch of Benjamin Franklins — $100 bills in prize money, that is

The Constitution Day Essay Contest is open to all UK undergraduate students. Essays must be limited to 750 words (excluding title or references) and submitted online no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 18. The essay must be written as a Microsoft Word document in 12-point Times New Roman font and double-spaced. Essays that do not reflect this format will not be considered an acceptable entry.

UK undergraduates may self-enroll for the contest now at

Entries must address at least one issue in the writing prompt below:

Donald J. Trump is not the first U.S. president to confront the news media over its reporting on him, his policies, and his administration (Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Grant, Truman, Nixon, and George W. Bush, among others, were subjected to often harsh press coverage). While the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees journalists the right to publish information without government interference — except in special cases, particularly those involving national security — it also ensures that the president and other government officials are free to criticize the news media. 

Each entry must address this question: 

When President Trump disparages the news media by talking about "fake news," "the failing @nytimes," the press as the "enemy of the American people,” does he strengthen the First Amendment by engaging in a lively debate about an important subject, or does he weaken freedom of the press by attempting to persuade people that most journalists cannot be trusted? 

A panel of judges selected by the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center will score the entries based on the following criteria: historical and legal accuracy of the content, the strength and logic of the argument, the original ideas presented, the organization of the argument, including the thesis, and the quality of the writing.

The cash prize for first place is $500; second place, $300; and third place, $200. Up to three honorable mentions will receive a book award: "James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights," written by Professor Richard Labunski of the UK School of Journalism and Media.

The three winners will receive their awards at the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center's Celebration at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at the William T. Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium. Judy Clabes, a distinguished alumna of the School of Journalism and Media, a Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame inductee and the creator of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, will be the keynote speaker.

For more information, contact Professor J.M. Farrell, interim director of the UK School of Journalism and Media and the director of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, at 120 Grehan Building or 859-257-4848.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue