Heather Porter, Programs Coordinator, (317) 927-8000, ext. 204, firstname.lastname@example.org
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS –The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to honor Tom Curley, president and CEO of The Associated Press, with a First Amendment Award.
The Society’s First Amendment Awards recognize individuals and groups for extraordinarily strong efforts to preserve and strengthen the First Amendment. The awards are open to individuals and organizations, and are not limited to journalists
Since taking over the AP in June 2003, Curley has worked to protect the freedom of the press. He instructed AP bureaus in every state to conduct state open records audits and had SPJ FOI Audit tool kits distributed to bureaus.
“Timidity and self-censorship are as great a threat to the free flow of information as is government secrecy,” said Irwin Gratz, chairman of SPJ’s nominations committee and immediate past president of the Society. “Curley has made it clear that, under his watch, the AP will ferret out the news and defend everyone’s right to hear it.”
Gratz nominated Curley based on a May 2004 speech in which Curley called the media to action, warning of increasing government secrecy. Below is an excerpt from that speech, given at the Hays Press-Enterprise Lecture in Riverside, Calif. Curley said national security and public safety are important interests which collide with the interests of fair trials, privacy rights and finding out what is going on:
“These important interests, and many more, compete and collide every day. None has an absolute right to prevail over all the others. The system depends on vigorous advocacy by all the competitors to achieve a workable balance. Our freedom hangs in that balance. Vigorous advocacy for open government is what I believe we need much more of today.”
Curley’s work will be recognized Saturday, Aug. 26 during the President’s Installation Banquet at the 2006 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.