This is an important time for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. As many of you know, Bruce joined the Reporters Committee earlier this month, and he has already set a high standard for success and brought new ideas to the table. He was one of a large field of excellent candidates, and I’d like to thank the Search Committee for its work in winnowing down the list. Special thanks also to Chuck Tobin of Holland & Knight for his help during this transition.
On behalf of the Steering Committee and the staff: I thank you all for being here to support for our efforts – and for providing the means to keep us operating for a while.
Putting these events together takes the hard work of many people. I’d like to quickly thank several.
First, former Steering Committee Chairman John Henry, who worked tirelessly to make this gala come together, with planning and meeting and phone calls, which many of you, I am sure, received and will remember. John’s devotion to, and passion for, the Reporters Committee inspire us all. On our staff, Debra Gersh Hernandez, Lois Lloyd and Michele McMahon were also terrific.
I want to give thanks to Gregg Leslie, our Legal Defense Director. Gregg’s daily contributions to the Reporters Committee are immeasurable – he is legal strategist, editor and IT guy, rolled into one. And this summer Gregg stepped up even more as acting director and kept operations moving ahead without missing a beat.
And a quick thanks to my own employer ALM Media, and especially CEO Bill Carter and editor David Brown for supporting me and the committee.
Of course I want to give special recognition to our former executive director, Lucy Dalglish. After 12 successful years of service to the Reporters committee, Lucy left this summer to become dean of the University of Maryland’s journalism school.
For all she has done to bring the committee to new levels of advocacy for the First Amendment and for the profession we love, we will always be very appreciative. Lucy, please stand.
I also want to briefly tell you how gratifying it is for me to play a role in recognizing our award winners this evening. I don’t know Josh Gerstein except through his great body of work at Politico, but the other three who were chosen by our awards committee, not me, just happen to have been important parts of my professional life for decades.
Fred Graham was an inspiration and a model for me as a new reporter on the Supreme Court beat 30+ years ago. And for just about as long, I have joined Brian Lamb and his colleague Bruce Collins who is here tonight, in our quixotic and so far completely unsuccessful campaign to bring cameras to the Supreme Court. And when I was at USA TODAY, just knowing that Barbara Wall had our backs, legal speaking, was a tremendous comfort. As Saundra Torry, secretary-treasurer of the Reporters Committee, who is now at USA TODAY, put it, “In First Amendment battles, Barbara first disarms her opponents with her charm and then demolishes them with her legal arguments. She’s our not-so-secret weapon in both defending and furthering the First Amendment.”
We also owe a great deal of appreciation to our awards dinner co-chairs: John Fahey of the National Geographic Society, and Katharine Weymouth of The Washington Post.
In spite of their busy schedules, John and Katharine graciously gave of their time and influence to help us reach out to potential donors; and their organizations are significant benefactors of the awards dinner.
As such, I now turn the program over to them.
First, John Fahey …..