In the midst of several major challenges to press freedom, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will hold a fundraising event in Arlington, Virginia on Sunday, October 14.
With talk of wartime restrictions in the air, the committee is preparing to make the case for the maximum possible press access to military operations in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile on the home front, the committee is engaged in several other battles, including defense of journalist Vanessa Leggett, jailed for more than two months for her refusal to turn over notes and sources to a federal grand jury. The committee’s web site, www.rcfp.org, marks each new day that she is imprisoned.
These are customary roles for the committee, founded in 1970 to provide free legal assistance to reporters in disputes over access, freedom of information and censorship. The committee has a full-time staff of six, supplemented by six interns and fellows. But the committee’s busy agenda highlights the need for fundraising support of the organization, which comes from individuals and foundations supportive of the First Amendment. Recipients of the committee’s assistance are never asked to pay. “Now more than ever, the committee needs help,” says Lucy Dalglish, the committee’s executive director. “Wartime is never an easy time for the press to fulfill its important function of informing the public.”
The Oct. 14 fundraiser will be an opportunity for individuals to show their support. The event includes a full barbecue meal and runs from 4 to 7 p.m., with a special benefit performance at 6 p.m. by the Capitol Steps. Tickets are $50.
A special book-signing event and reception for major donors will take place before the barbecue. Authors Daniel Schorr, Roger Simon, Tony Collings, Deb Price and Joyce Murdoch will be on hand to autograph their works, which will be given free to donors of $500 or more.
For more information about the event, and to sign up for tickets, please call the committee at 703-807-2100.