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Reporters Committee hosts gala celebration tonight

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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will host a gala fundraising celebration tonight at the Andrew W. Mellon…

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will host a gala fundraising celebration tonight at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

The event will honor Tom Curley of the Associated Press, Colbert King of the Washington Post, Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio and Mark Goodman of the Student Press Law Center; Special recognition will be given to Charles Overby, chairman, chief executive officer and president of the Freedom Forum.

The dinner co-chairs are Bo Jones, the publisher of the Washington Post, and Bruce Sanford, a partner with the Washington office of Baker & Hostetler LLP. Judy Woodruff of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Gordon Peterson, WJLA-TV anchor and moderator of Inside Washington, will be the dinner speakers.

The Reporters Committee is a voluntary association of reporters and editors dedicated to protecting the First Amendment and freedom of information interests of the news media. For the past 30 years, it has provided legal defense and research assistance to journalists and their attorneys on issues relating to freedom of information, libel, invasion of privacy, reporters’ privilege, prior restraints, and access to courts.

The Washington-based Committee was founded in 1970, spurred by the plight of then New York Times reporter Earl Caldwell, who had been subpoenaed the previous year be a federal grand jury, which demanded that he reveal his sources within the Black Panthers organization. Among those individuals who founded the Reporters Committee or joined soon after its inception were J. Anthony Lukas, Murray Fromson, James Goodale, Fred Graham, Jack Nelson, Benjamin Bradlee, Eileen Shanahan, Mike Wallace, Robert Maynard and Tom Wicker.

Today the Committee has a staff of 15, which provides free legal defense and research to journalists and their attorneys. The organization publishes the quarterly magazine News Media & the Law, a biweekly media law newsletter, a Web site that is updated daily, and several guides to assist journalists. It also operates a toll-free hotline to assist reporters with their questions. The Committee handles more than 2,000 requests annually for its services.