Nico is the director of communications at FIRE. He 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’s on-campus activism in defense of student and faculty rights led to induction into FIRE’s Prometheus Society. He was also a winner of 1 for All and the Knight Foundation‘s 2011 “Free to Tweet” contest.
Nico first joined FIRE in 2012 as a program associate and assistant to the president, later serving as a communications coordinator. In 2014, Nico went to work for the Institute for Justice, before returning to FIRE in 2015 to manage its communications team.
Originally from the Chicagoland area, Nico lives and works in New York City. In his spare time, he enjoys playing guitar, studying history, and pretending he is Jimmy Buffett. Nico is the host of FIRE’s So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast.
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.