Board approves 3 Legal Defense Fund grants
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sonny Albarado, SPJ National President, 501.551.8811, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine DiGangi, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317.927.8000 ext. 205, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS — At its semiannual board meeting, the Society of Professional Journalists awarded three Legal Defense Fund grants to help preserve journalists’ rights.
The recipients include Scott Sternberg, counsel for The Daily Reveille, the Louisiana State University newspaper; Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent/Online Journalism Project; and The Daily Helmsman, the student newspaper at the University of Memphis. The board distributed $3,000, $2,310 and $3,024, respectively.
“I'm proud that SPJ through its Legal Defense Fund is able to assist these journalists in their defense of a free press and the public's right to know,” said Sonny Albarado, SPJ president.
The Daily Reveille filed a petition to enforce LSU’s compliance with the state’s public records laws, which the university has ignored by refusing to release the names of LSU presidential applicants. This week, a judge ordered the university to release the applicants’ names.
Paul Bass was subpoenaed, in violation of Connecticut’s shield law, to testify about an interview he conducted with a police officer. The New Haven Independent’s attorney persuaded the judge to release Bass from the subpoena.
The Daily Helmsman’s editor Chelsea Boozer and adviser Candy Justice applied for the LDF grant after the paper’s funding was cut by 33 percent. The university committee responsible for the cuts said the decision directly related to the paper’s content. News coverage of The Daily Helmsman’s ordeal can be found at http://www.freethehelmsman.com.
“The courage exhibited by Daily Reveille editor Andrea Gallo, New Haven's Paul Bass and the Helmsman's Chelsea Boozer in the face of official intimidation and disregard of the law should inspire all journalists,” Albarado said.
The Legal Defense Fund was established to collect and distribute contributions to help journalists defend the freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The primary role of the Legal Defense Fund is to initiate and support litigation that enforces public access to government records and proceedings.
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. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.