The Free Press

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for Free Press, "a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media", click here.

The Free Press is a progressive news source of community based journalism in Ohio.[1]


The original Columbus Free Press grew out of the anti-war movement on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio in October 1970.

Inspired by the activism against the Vietnam War and the senseless killings at Kent State, the underground paper was published for a 25-year tumultuous history (1970-1995). Like other underground alternative publications around the country, the Free Press went through many changes through the years. It served as the voice of the students in the early 70's, reporting on social justice issues such as sexism, racism, peace activism, corporate misdeeds, politics and the counterculture. Constantly struggling to survive on a shoestring budget, it encountered opposition from without and within. Internal ideological struggles were compounded, for example, when police arrested four of the editors in 1971 for "inciting riot."

Four members of the editorial staff of the Columbus Free Press were jailed on May 18, 1972. They were arrested by the Columbus Police “Red Squad.” Margaret Sarber, John Neikirk, Steve Abbottt and Colin Neiberger were held on bail as high as $150,000 as enemies of the state[2].

Back then, there was a real clash of cultures: a peace-oriented social justice culture vs. a violent military industrial complex.

Changing faces on the editorial staff show different politics and policies through the years. The Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism 501(c)3 nonprofit organization was founded in 1986 as the sponsor of the Free Press newspaper.

In the 1980s The Free Press faced so much competition in the "alternative" newspaper marketplace in Columbus that revenues dried up. It published its 25th Anniversary issue in October 1995, only with dollars donated from then-Columbus Guardian publisher Ron Williams; and ceased publication temporarily.

The Free Press was resurrected as a website in early 1996 courtesy of longtime volunteer and activist Tim Wagner. The website developed during the next two years and the printed publication emerged as a quarterly journal in the Winter of 1998. A new Board of Directors formed and gradually the Free Press is back up and running in Central Ohio.

The Free Press now honors community activists annually with a "Libby" Award for Community Activism, named for a former Free Press editor, Libby Gregory, who lost her life in 1991 in an airplane accident. In 1998, a Selma Walker Award for lifetime achievement in Human Rights activism was added in honor of Selma Walker, the founder of the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio.[1]


The Free press is closely linked to Democratic Socialists of America.[1]

The CICJ is a member of Community Shares of Mid Ohio, earning a small amount of funds through workplace campaigns. Look for the Free Press/Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio wine booth at the Community Festival each year during the last weekend in June. The Free Press is dependent on subscriptions, donations and fund-raising events to stay alive.

Board of Directors

The Free Press is run by the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism[1]

As of March 18, 2010, the CICJ Board of Directors includes:[3]

Pete Johnson, President
Eric Neubauer, Vice President
Suzanne Patzer, Treasurer
Bill Finzel
Robert Fitrakis (Ex-Officio) Executive Director/Editor
Marley Greiner
Gregory Gross
Keith Kilty
Simone Morgen
Mary Reiter
Margaret Sarber
Mark Stansbery
Connie Gaddell-Newton
David Lewis

The Free Press staff

The following are listed as members of The Free Press staff:[1]

External links