On Tuesday, at the Freedom of the Press Awards, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced a $1 million gift — the largest personal contribution in the organization’s 46-year history — from Amazon Chief Executive Officer and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.
“This generous gift will help us continue to grow, to offer our legal and educational support to many more news organizations, and to expand our services to independent journalists, nonprofit newsrooms and documentary filmmakers,” Reporters Committee Chairman David Boardman said. “We’ll also be better positioned to help local newsrooms, the places hit hardest by the disruption in the news industry and whose survival is every bit as crucial to American democracy as those entities headquartered in Washington and New York.”
Reporters Committee also announced that will play a leading role in administering an expanded First Look Media Press Freedom Defense Fund of up to $6 million. The fund will review and evaluate grant requests and award funds to strengthen the ability of news organizations and journalists to pursue legal fights where a substantial public interest is at stake.
“We're honored to partner with First Look Media as it expands its Press Freedom Defense Fund,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown. “Tonight's announcements send a strong signal that we are ready to face whatever challenges we may face and we are committed to standing alongside journalists in support of the First Amendment.”
Charles Gibson, former host of Good Morning America and ABC World News with Charles Gibson emceed the event, which raised a total of $1.9 million for the Reporters Committee and its mission ensure a robust and vibrant free press by offering pro bono legal support to journalists and newsrooms.
The Freedom of the Press Awards — recognizing career achievements in protecting press freedom — were given to Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron, former Senior Vice President and Executive Editor of the Associated Press Kathleen Carroll, ProPublica Executive Chairman Paul Steiger, and the Media and First Amendment practice of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.
Attendees also heard from the New York Times Deputy General Counsel David McCraw who penned the letter that later went viral responding to a threat from then-candidate Donald Trump of a libel suit.
“When we stand up for freedom of the press, it is not just about standing up for news organizations and their journalism,” McCraw said in his remarks. “It is about standing up for people who depend on us to give them the truth and to give them a voice.”
Major sponsors of the dinner included the Washington Post, Google, Microsoft, Davis Wright Tremaine, the Associated Press, AOL Inc., Meryl Streep, and Richard and Carole Rifkind.
Copies of the remarks, as prepared for delivery, along with photos and video from the evening will be made available on the Reporters Committee website.
About the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press was founded by leading journalists and media lawyers in 1970 when the nation’s news media faced an unprecedented wave of government subpoenas forcing reporters to name confidential sources. Today it provides pro bono legal representation, amicus curiae support, and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and the newsgathering rights of journalists. Funded by corporate, foundation and individual contributions, the Reporters Committee serves the nation’s leading news organizations; thousands of reporters, editors, and media lawyers; and many more who use our online and mobile resources. For more information, go to rcfp.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.