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John Seigenthaler, friend of the Reporters Committee and the First Amendment, remembered

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John Seigenthaler, former editor and later publisher of The Tennessean in Nashville and founder of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment…

John Seigenthaler, former editor and later publisher of The Tennessean in Nashville and founder of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center, died Friday at age 86.

Former Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Chairman Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for The National Law Journal, recalled Seigenthaler’s ever-vigilant support for the First Amendment and the work of the Reporters Committee:

"John Seigenthaler was a great friend of the First Amendment and one of its most articulate and powerful defenders," Mauro said. "In particular he fought hard for freedom of the press, knowing from his own experience in journalism how important it was for society that news media be free to report aggressively and fairly.

"John was also someone who could bring together disparate elements of society on the common ground of the Constitution. I saw this up close when he convened a series of meetings between federal judges and journalists spanning more than a decade. Though journalists and judges do not always see eye to eye on issues like access, John was able to make both sides see we had an important and complementary role to play in making democracy work, and we could and should do so without sacrificing our independence.

"John was also a great friend over the decades of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, most recently in 2012 assisting us in finding a new executive director. He gave his wise counsel freely and with enthusiasm for a cause he believed in deeply," Mauro recalled.

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.