Each year, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press presents its Freedom of the Press Awards to recognize the accomplishments of leaders in the news media and legal fields whose work embodies the values of the First Amendment.
This year, we’re announcing our new Rising Star Award to honor a young leader who is making great strides in the press freedom community and forging new paths in the field of media law. The inaugural winner of this award is Nabiha Syed, BuzzFeed vice president of legal and associate general counsel.
We talked to a lot of people about Nabiha and her work, and we came to the conclusion that there’s no better way to tell you about why we’re honoring Nabiha than a listicle, true BuzzFeed-style.
- Nabiha’s interest in media law grew after she heard a presentation on sealed courtroom dockets and the threat they pose to journalists who are trying to cover a case or court issues. The presentation, by former Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy Dalglish, sparked an interest in helping to support investigative journalism and inspired her to co-found the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School.
- “She talks, you understand, you want to be part of it,” as The New York Times Vice President and Deputy General Counsel David McCraw said. Journalists and newsroom lawyers sometimes have contentious relationships, but Nabiha is known for being a “real reporter’s lawyer” and a true advocate for the reporters she works with. Which is good, because they keep her busy.
- She’s a First Amendment superhero as evidenced by her ability to rock a cape. (There is not one person we talked to who didn’t point this out.)
- She doesn’t just have a sense of the First Amendment now, she has her finger on the pulse of where it’s going. In an era when technology is changing the way that news is presented and published, she’s a thought leader on how technology and the First Amendment come together.
- Syed was named as one of Forbes “30 Under 30” in Law and Policy in 2014, was named a “40 Under 40 Rising Star” by the New York Law Journal in 2016, and was a finalist for the Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award from the International Bar Association in 2017.
In addition to Nabiha, the Reporters Committee will honor The New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet, former Senior Host of “All Things Considered” Robert Siegel, and Florentine Films documentary filmmaker Lynn Novick on May 22, 2018, at the Freedom of the Press Awards.