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Three outstanding journalists and a distinguished media lawyer will be honored by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in September for their efforts on behalf of press freedom and government transparency.
Fred Graham, a founding member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, will be the inaugural recipient of the Fred Graham Distinguished Service Award, named in his honor to recognize outstanding service to and support of the Reporters Committee and its work on behalf of a free press. Graham, a former reporter for Court TV, CBS News and The New York Times, has been a continuous member of the Reporters Committee Steering Committee since its founding in 1970.
Also honored with First Amendment Awards for continued success in preserving access to information are:
Co-chairs of the First Amendment Awards Dinner are John Fahey, chairman and CEO of the National Geographic Society, and Katharine Weymouth, CEO of Washington Post Media and publisher of The Washington Post.
Confirmed hosts for the evening are Pierre Thomas, chief Justice Department correspondent for ABC News, and Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent and co-anchor of the “PBS NewsHour.” Both Thomas and Woodruff are members of the Reporters Committee’s Steering Committee.
The dinner will be held September 27 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. More information about the Reporters Committee First Amendment Awards Dinner, including information on how to purchase tables and individual tickets, is online at www.rcfp.org/gala2012.
About the First Amendment Award Winners (for longer bios and photos, see www.rcfp.org/gala2012):
Court TV veteran Fred Graham joined the network when it launched in 1991. Graham served as chief anchor and managing editor of Court TV, hosting the morning trial coverage program Open Court before assuming the role of senior editor, heading the network’s editorial board.
The author of four books about law and the news media, Graham has been a practicing attorney; government official; legal writer for The New York Times; law correspondent for CBS News; and anchor, commentator and senior editor for WKRN-TV, the ABC affiliate in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn. He has received numerous awards for his reporting, including the George Foster Peabody Award, two American Bar Association Silver Gavel Awards, and participation in three Emmy Award-winning reports.
Graham served as law correspondent for CBS News from 1972 to 1987, covering the activities of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Department, FBI and the legal profession. He also served as substitute anchor on the CBS News programs Face the Nation, Nightwatch and the CBS Morning News, and broadcast a weekly radio commentary, “The Law and You.”
Graham joined CBS News from The New York Times, where he had been Supreme Court correspondent since 1965. While reporting for the Times, Graham was one of 30 prominent journalists who met on a Sunday afternoon in Spring 1970 to discuss the pressing problem of government attempts to subpoena reporters to testify in court cases. The gathering led to the formation of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. During its first months, Graham served as the committee’s de facto executive, running its operations from his desk in the U.S. Supreme Court press room.
Prior to reporting for the Times, he served as Special Assistant to Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz (October 1963-February 1965), during which time he also served as Deputy Chief Counsel of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. Before that, he was the Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. He also served as legislative counsel for the Subcommittee’s Chairman, Sen. Estes Kefauver. Before moving to D.C. in 1963, Graham practiced law in Nashville, Tenn., with the firm of Trabue, Sturdivant and Harbison.
Josh Gerstein is a White House reporter for POLITICO, specializing in legal and national security issues. But he also aggressively reports on government transparency, holding officials to account for excessive government secrecy.
Gerstein joined political news outlet just before President Barack Obama’s inauguration and has covered a range of topics including the Obama administration’s crackdown on leaks, and the relationship between the press and the Obama White House. From 2003 to 2008, Gerstein was The New York Sun’s national reporter and covered national politics, terrorism trials and other legal stories of national significance.
Gerstein worked for ABC News from 1995 to 2003 where he covered the 1996 presidential bid of former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas), and later spent five years covering the White House as a producer and correspondent. He was on the White House beat during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
From 2002 to 2003, Gerstein was the Beijing correspondent for ABC. He made a series of trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, reporting for programs such as “Nightline” on the messages received by the families of Guantanamo prisoners and the precautions taken to protect U.S. diplomats. Prior to joining ABC, Gerstein worked in CNN’s investigative unit and covered terrorism-related stories, such as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. While not a lawyer, Gerstein is an expert on the Freedom of Information Act and has aggressively pursued several lawsuits seeking records on federal contracting, allegations of abuse of detainees at Guantanamo, use of the sneak-and-peek provisions of the Patriot Act, and the government’s handling of leaks of classified information.
Brian Lamb is executive chairman of C-SPAN Networks. He’s been a part of the public affairs channel since he helped the cable industry launch it 33 years ago.
Lamb has been a regular on-air presence at C-SPAN since the network’s earliest days. Over the years, he has interviewed Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, and many world leaders, including Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. For 15 years, beginning in 1989, he interviewed 800 non-fiction authors for a weekly program known as Booknotes. Four books of collected interviews have been published based on the Booknotes series. Currently, Lamb hosts Q and A, an hour-long interview program on Sunday evening with people who are making things happen in politics, media, education or technology.
After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in speech, Lamb joined the Navy. His tour included the USS Thuban, White House duty during the Johnson Administration and a stint in the Pentagon public affairs office during the Vietnam War.
In 1967, his Navy service complete, Lamb returned to Lafayette. However, it wasn’t long before he returned to the nation’s capital where he began as a freelance reporter for UPI radio. Later, he served as a Senate press secretary and worked for the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy at a time when a national strategy was being developed for communications satellites.
In 1974, Lamb returned to journalism, publishing a biweekly newsletter called The Media Report. He also covered telecommunications issues as Washington bureau chief for Cablevision Magazine.
It was from this vantage point that C-SPAN began to take shape. Congress was about to televise its proceedings; the cable industry was looking for programming to deliver to its customers by satellite. Lamb brought these two ideas together with C-SPAN, which launched with the first televised House of Representatives debate on March 19, 1979.
Barbara W. Wall
Barbara Wartelle Wall has represented the First Amendment interests of Gannett Co., Inc. for 27 years. During her tenure, more than 1,000 subpoenas seeking the testimony of Gannett reporters have been quashed, more than 500 libel suits have been successfully defended, and Gannett properties have filed hundreds of access suits forcing the disclosure of everything from records revealing the deaths of children in state custody, to secret settlements by government agencies, to sexual abuse by priests.
After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School, Wall spent five years with the New York City law firm of Satterlee & Stephens where her clients included CBS and Doubleday Books. She moved to Washington, D.C. to join the Gannett legal staff in 1985, three years after USA TODAY was launched. She has been vice president and senior associate general counsel of Gannett since April 2009.
Wall is a leader of the media bar and a frequent speaker on First Amendment issues. As chair of the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law, she founded the Forum’s Annual Meeting, which attracts more than 250 First Amendment lawyers each year, and the ABA’s Women in Communications Law committee.
Wall has chaired the Newspaper Association of America’s Legal Affairs committee, and serves on the board of The Media Institute in Washington, D.C. She has taught Communications Law as an adjunct faculty member at George Washington and American Universities, and is on the faculty for the Practicing Law Institute’s annual Communications Law program in New York. In 2007 she was the recipient of the Women Bar Association’s annual “Star of the Bar” award.
About the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Founded in 1970, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers free legal support to thousands of working journalists and media lawyers each year. It is a leader in the fight against persistent efforts by government officials to impede the release of public information, whether by withholding documents or threatening reporters with jail. In addition to its 24/7 Legal Defense Hotline, the Reporters Committee conducts cutting-edge legal research, publishes handbooks and guides on media law issues, files frequent friend-of-the-court legal briefs and offers challenging fellowships and internships for young lawyers and journalists. For more information, go to www.rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.
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