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Reporters Committee announces 2020 Freedom of the Press Award honorees

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This year, RCFP will honor Amal Clooney, Julie K. Brown, Jane Mayer, Ted Boutrous and Rising Star Laura Moscoso.

Today, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced its 2020 Freedom of the Press Award recipients.

  • Ted Boutrous, media law attorney and partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
  • Julie K. Brown, investigative journalist for The Miami Herald
  • Amal Clooney, co-founder and president, Clooney Foundation for Justice
  • Jane Mayer, staff writer and chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker

The Reporters Committee annually recognizes the accomplishments of leaders in the news media and legal fields whose work embodies the values of the First Amendment through its prestigious Freedom of the Press Awards.

The 2020 Freedom of the Press Awards, presented by Microsoft, also coincide with the Reporters Committee’s 50th anniversary celebration and will be held on May 5, 2020 in New York. Hearst is the Leadership Sponsor, and Norman Pearlstine is the Anniversary Champion.

Chairs for the event are Amanda Bennett; Donald E. Graham, chairman of Graham Holdings; Norman Pearlstine, executive editor of the Los Angeles Times; Brad Smith, president of Microsoft; and Hearst President and CEO Steven R. Swartz.

“From doing investigative reporting that held the powerful accountable, to providing stellar legal support for journalists under fire, this year’s honorees truly embody our First Amendment at work,” said Stephen J. Adler, chair of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “We’re thrilled to honor these press freedom champions.”

In just the past year, Boutrous has represented and won cases for journalists Jim Acosta and Brian Karem as they faced White House access issues. He also represents media organizations, reporters, and others in a wide array of First Amendment, access, subpoena, defamation, freedom of information, prior restraint, newsgathering and copyright matters. In 2013, he was named one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America,” by The National Law Journal.

Brown is an award-winning investigative journalist who has uncovered injustice in the criminal justice system — including breaking the stories about abusive conditions in Florida’s prisons — and exposed Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking.

Clooney represented Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were detained in Myanmar, and is currently representing Maria Ressa, journalist and CEO of Rappler. In addition to her work as a human rights activist and lawyer, Clooney serves as the United Kingdom’s Special Envoy for Media Freedom.

Throughout her career as a reporter for The New Yorker, Mayer has written four best-selling books that tackle issues of money, corruption and power in politics, and is best known for her accountability journalism and her ability to expose the underpinnings of powerful institutions. She has been a longtime Steering Committee member of the Reporters Committee.

The Reporters Committee also gives an annual Rising Star Award to honor young leaders who are forwarding the cause of press freedom. This year’s Rising Star Award will go to Laura Moscoso.

Moscoso is a data journalist at the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Journalism (el Centro de Periodismo Investigativo). She reported on the discrepancy between the death toll figures released by the government and the actual number of deaths caused by Hurricane María in 2017, among other investigations.

“Each of our Award winners has risen to take on the challenges of protecting the First Amendment in their own unique ways and with extraordinary success,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee. “None is shying away from the threats of the day, and they set an example for us all.”

In addition to honoring these five for their commitment to press freedom, the Reporters Committee is celebrating 50 years of defending journalists.

“The Reporters Committee was founded to counter government threats to freedom of the press. Over the last five decades, this organization has continually evolved to meet journalists’ growing need for legal assistance,” said Brown. “We’re thrilled to celebrate this milestone in our history and look forward to the next chapter in our work.”

For information about sponsorships and ticket purchases, please visit rcfp.org/50. Past Freedom of the Press Award winners are listed here