The Atlantic Launches New Project On Free Speech

To meaningfully address manifold challenges of divisiveness—on campus, online, and in other aspects of society—national magazine The Atlantic announced today a new, year-long, reporting initiative focused on drivers of polarization and how to address it. The project, “The Speech Wars,” explores questions surrounding the state of public discourse in America. The outlet offers greater detail in its announcement:

“The Speech Wars” is born out of The Atlantic’s legacy of covering threats to free expression, freedom, and justice—beginning with the magazine’s founding in 1857 as a nonpartisan journal that argued for the cause of abolition—and more urgently by the public’s increasing sectarianism and declining tolerance for challenging points of view.”

The Atlantic is, and always has been, a marketplace for competing ideas,” said Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic. “We need to understand why so many factions and individuals across America have traded dissent and useful argument for intolerance and illiberalism.”

The initiative builds next week with a summit in San Francisco where scholars, journalists, and technology leaders will discuss free expression and the free press, open dialogue on college campuses, and social media’s role in public discourse.

“We’re excited to stand alongside the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Fetzer Institute in supporting The Atlantic’s expansion of their courageous and nuanced coverage of growing polarization,” said Charles Koch Foundation’s Sarah Ruger. “America’s an increasingly diverse nation, and we can be better for our differences. Dedicated efforts like The Atlantic’s stand to deepen our understanding and ultimately address barriers to that peaceful and productive pluralism.”

Read The Atlantic’s full release here.

The open exchange of ideas—through education, media, and other vital aspects of society—has been at the heart of the Foundation’s philanthropy from the outset. As part of that work, we also support partners expanding legal protections for journalists in the digital age, platforms highlighting luminaries exploring the relationship between social progress and free expression, and social scientists researching the psychological roots of intolerance. Learn more about these and other Courageous Collaborations here.

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