Saundra Torry of USA Today elected chairman of the Reporters Committee; four new Steering Committee members on board

Press Release | June 5, 2013

Saundra Torry, editorial writer and member of USA TODAY’S editorial board, was elected chairman of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press by members of the organization’s Steering Committee, who also voted in Pierre Thomas, senior Justice Department correspondent for ABC News, as vice chairman; and John Henry, retired news editor for The Associated Press, as secretary-treasurer.

New Steering Committee members elected to two-year terms were Susan Goldberg, executive editor for federal, state and local coverage for Bloomberg News, and Jeff Leen, assistant managing editor of the investigative unit at The Washington Post. New members elected to three-year terms were Jan Crawford, chief legal correspondent for CBS News, and Jeffrey Rosen, legal affairs editor at The New Republic.

Steering Committee members re-elected to three-year terms were: J. Scott Applewhite, senior photojournalist, AP; Chip Bok, editorial cartoonist, Creators Syndicate; Nat Hentoff, columnist, Universal Uclick; Doyle McManus, Washington columnist, the Los Angeles Times; Eric Schmitt, senior writer and Washington correspondent, The New York Times; Alicia Shepard, freelance; Paul Steiger, editor in chief, president and chief executive, ProPublica; and Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent and co-anchor, PBS NewsHour.

“As news organizations are under unprecedented assault by the Obama administration, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press faces the most daunting challenge since the era of the Pentagon Papers,” said Torry. “We vow to energetically defend the rights of reporters to gather news as guaranteed by the First Amendment, even when the administration seems to have forgotten what that means.

“We’ll work with Congress to adopt an effective shield law to ensure that federal law, like the laws of most states, recognizes a reporter’s right to shield whistleblowers and other sources who have been promised their identities won’t be revealed. That’s a critical tool in keeping government accountable to the public,” she added. “Hopefully, a new law – and modernizing Justice Department guidelines governing how it obtains reporters’ records – will re-establish the balance needed to protect the newsgathering process. Recent abuses require better guidelines and renewed respect for newsgathering in the department’s day-to-day work.

“Our most important goal is ensuring that future presidents and attorneys general will not infringe upon the rights of reporters to do their basic job,” Torry said.

Bios of the new and returning Steering Committee members are on the Reporters Committee website.

About the Reporters Committee

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.

Related Reporters Committee resources:

· Steering Committee