Vice President of Communications
Nico Perrino is Vice President of FIRE’s Communications department, which oversees media relations, social media, web development, graphic design, audio and video production, advertising and marketing, public opinion research, FIRE’s award-winning Newsdesk, and additional public awareness programs for the organization. He is also the creator and host of FIRE’s So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast.
Nico began defending civil liberties on campus with FIRE in 2010 as a summer intern. He joined FIRE full time in 2012 as a Program Associate and Assistant to the President. Nico later went to work for the Institute for Justice before returning to FIRE to manage its communications department. His writing has been featured in USA Today, Politico, and The Guardian, and he regularly travels the country to speak about student and faculty rights on campus.
As a documentarian, Nico was Co-Director and Senior Producer of “Mighty Ira: A Civil Liberties Story” (2020), a feature-length film about the life and career of former ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser. Previously, Nico served as Creative Consultant on “Can We Take a Joke?” (2015), a film about censorship in stand up comedy.
Nico graduated from Indiana University-Bloomington (IU) with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and history. While at IU, he was a member of the track & field team and served as editor-in-chief for the Indiana Standard and as a reporter and columnist for the Indiana Daily Student. Nico was inducted into FIRE’s Prometheus Society for his on-campus activism in defense of student and faculty rights. He was also a winner of the 2011 “Free to Tweet” contest sponsored by 1 for All and the Knight Foundation.
Originally from Chicago, Nico now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. area.
Using the Media to Take Your Fight to the Court of Public Opinion
“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases,” said the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. Whether you are a citizen trying to reveal corruption at city hall or a student fighting to reform your campus’ speech codes, working with the media can be your most powerful tool to expose an injustice and effect meaningful change. This 50-minute talk will help you gain an in-depth understanding of how today’s media industry works and learn the skills, tactics, and philosophy that FIRE employs to generate positive media coverage for its cases and initiatives. After this talk, attendees will be well-equipped to prepare their own on- or off-campus media campaigns.
The First Amendment: A Primer for Students
In this 50-minute talk, Nico provides a brief overview of what the First Amendment’s free speech provision protects, before he addresses the fundamental question of why America has a First Amendment in the first place. Too often support for free speech rests upon an incomplete and circular argument that free speech is important because it’s protected by the First Amendment. But why does our Constitution protect the rights of members of the Westboro Baptist Church to broadcast their hateful messages? The neo-Nazis to march down the streets of Skokie, Illinois? Or one individual’s right to burn the American flag? Nico will seek to answer these questions in plain English before using real-world examples to explore how students’ free speech rights change after they graduate from high school and move on to college—and how they can ensure those rights are protected.
Current Trends in the Fight for Free Speech on Campus
In this 25-minute talk, Nico provides a brief overview and analysis of current trends surrounding free speech on campus before making the philosophical argument for free speech generally.