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San Francisco Chronicle Reporter Wins Pulliam First Amendment Award


Sue Porter, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation President, 513/977-3030 or
Micca Leppert, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation Coordinator, 317/927-8000, ext. 213 or

Indianapolis — Seth Rosenfeld of the San Francisco Chronicle is the 2003 recipient of the Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award presented annually by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the educational arm of the Society of Professional Journalists.

“Seth Rosenfeld’s work exemplifies the highest standards in journalism,” said Sue Porter, SDX Foundation president. “His cautionary story — the result of nearly a quarter century of investigation — has drawn attention in the U.S. Senate and is particularly timely in an era when federal officials have narrowed the Freedom of Information Act and broadened governmental powers of surveillance.”

Rosenfeld, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, specializing in legal affairs and investigative reporting, will be recognized as this year’s award winner for his piece “The Campus Files: Reagan, Hoover and the UC Red Scare.” The award will be made during the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2003 National Convention in Tampa, Fla. He will be presented a check for $10,000 and a crystal sculpture at the closing banquet on Sept. 13 at the Hyatt Regency Tampa.

Rosenfeld’s work on “The Campus Files” spanned 22 years, starting when he was a journalism student at the University of California at Berkley, and concluded when his investigative piece was published last year.

“He had no idea he was embarking upon a project that would ultimately reveal unlawful FBI interference with First Amendment rights and strengthen the Freedom of Information Act,” said Ken Conner, Rosenfeld’s editor, in supporting his nomination for the award.

“He exposed a secret history involving the nation’s most powerful law enforcement agency, one of its most prestigious public universities, and the man who would become one of our most popular presidents,” Conner said. “But, above all, Rosenfeld protected and preserved First Amendment rights that are fundamental to democracy.”

“Rosenfeld independently brought three lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act in a 17-year legal battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court and set legal precedent broadening public access under FOIA,” stated Dan Noyes, editorial director for the Center for Investigative Reporting, in his supporting nomination. “His relentless pursuit of the truth forced the FBI to release more than 200,000 pages of once-secret records. 'The Campus Files' served as a powerful and timely cautionary tale.”

Rosenfeld’s story also led to the development of a Web to the investigation and its findings.

“I am extremely honored to receive the Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award because it stands for journalism’s fundamental mission of protecting the First Amendment rights of all people to speak, to assemble and to pursue the truth, which are especially crucial to democracy during times of fear and crisis,” said Rosenfeld.

Rosenfeld earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkley, where he began his career by writing for the Daily Californian student newspaper. After UC-Berkley, he was an associate at the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco. In 1984 he joined the San Francisco Examiner and was a reporter there until 2000, when he joined the San Francisco Chronicle. Rosenfeld has won several journalism awards, including the George Polk Award. He has taught news reporting and writing at San Francisco State University’s Department of Journalism. In addition, he has given presentations on reporting and on using the Freedom of Information Act.

The Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award was established to honor the name, work and First Amendment legacy of Eugene S. Pulliam. Mr. Pulliam, who died in 1999, was publisher of The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News until his death and was well-known for consistently supporting activities which educated the public about First Amendment rights and values.

Founded in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. It supports the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists, other journalism organizations and individuals working on behalf of the Society’s mission.

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