To create better understanding of the media, politicians and the role of the First Amendment in our democracy.
The Overby Center features programs, multimedia displays and writings which examine the complex relationships between the media and politicians - past, present and future. We pay special attention to Southern perspectives.
Charles L. Overby is the former chairman and CEO of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute. He currently serves as chairman of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. He also is an adjunct instructor in Journalism at Ole Miss. For 22 years he was chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, a non-partisan foundation that educates people about the press and the First Amendment.
He was CEO of the Newseum from 1997 to 2011 and supervised the building of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
Overby has traveled to six continents speaking about media issues and promoting First Amendment freedoms.
Before joining the Freedom Forum, Overby was a reporter and editor for 17 years. As a reporter, he covered Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the White House and presidential campaigns for Gannett Co., the nation’s largest newspaper company. Overby was the top editor at Florida Today in Melbourne, Fla., and the executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger and Jackson Daily News in Jackson, Miss.
Overby supervised the news and editorial coverage that led to the Clarion-Ledger winning the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 1983. Overby also served as vice president of news and communications for Gannett and was a member of the management committees of Gannett and USA TODAY.
He served two brief stints in government, as press assistant to Sen. John Stennis, D-Miss., and special assistant for administration to Gov. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
Overby has served on several boards relating to education. He was a regent for Baylor University, a member of the board of visitors of Duke Divinity School, a member of the NCAA Foundation Board and a member of the foundation board of the University of Mississippi, his alma mater. He was a member of the board of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, which gives more than $2 million annually in college scholarships to underprivileged students. He is a member of the board of directors of the Andrew Jackson Foundation and serves on the Board of Visitors for the School of Journalism and New Media.
He and his wife, Andrea, live in Franklin, Tenn. and Oxford, Miss., and have three children and three grandchildren.
The center has state-of-the-art technology and video throughout the building, including a news wall with nine large-screen TV monitors for showing live news programs and current front pages from 12 Southern states. The Center is funded through a $5 million grant from the Freedom Forum, a foundation dedicated to educating people about the importance of a free press and the First Amendment.
The center is named for Charles L. Overby, editor of the Daily Mississippian at Ole Miss from 1967-1968. Overby was the CEO of the Freedom Forum and Newseum until his retirement in 2012.