National Press Club

U.S. journalists jailed for reporting to gather at National Press Club, 6 pm June 1

May 15, 2015 | By John M. Donnelly |

Most of the U.S. journalists who have been jailed defending the First Amendment will gather at 6 p.m. Monday, June 1, at the National Press Club to support protecting whistleblowers and journalists from retribution and prosecution.

Nearly a dozen speakers at the event will be members of the media who have been fined, detained or jailed for protecting the identity of confidential sources. The session will take place in the Murrow Room, and registration is required.

“The men and women who’ve defended the First Amendment with their sacrifices represent newspapers, television stations, bloggers, film makers and editors. They’ve never assembled before. It is truly an historic occasion,” said John M. Donnelly, chairman of the Club's Press Freedom Committee.

The symposium is sponsored by the National Press Club, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, First Amendment Coalition, Expose Facts.Org, the Maryland Delaware District of Columbia Press Association, United States Justice Foundation and the Institute for Public Accuracy.

The event is timed to coincide with International Whistleblowers week, which kicks off June 1.

“Whistleblowers are the source of numerous important news stories,” said Donnelly. “It’s important to protect their anonymity in many cases. Without these confidential sources, the public’s access to information that it needs would dry up.”

The event will be moderated by Brian Karem, executive editor for the Sentinel Newspapers in Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince Georges counties. Karem, who received the National Press Club’s National Freedom of the Press Award in 1991, was jailed four times for protecting a confidential source.

The forum will feature a panel discussion including journalists Judith Miller, Vanessa Leggett, Libby Averyt, Jim Taricani, Josh Wolf, Lisa Abraham, David Kidwell, Sid Gaulden, Andrew Shain, Brad Stone, Timothy Crews, Roxana Kopetman and Bruce Anderson.
The group will discuss the need for a national shield law to protect reporters from prosecution.

“Every state in the union has a shield law to protect reporters doing their jobs and the National Press Club is on record saying there is every reason for the federal government to supply the same support,” said Donnelly.