Magazine article The Quill

Bruce Sanford Honored with Wells Key

Magazine article The Quill

Bruce Sanford Honored with Wells Key

Article excerpt

Recognizing this year's Wells Memorial Key winner, Bruce W. Sanford, was an honor far overdue - as illustrated by the unprecedented 34 current and past leaders who signed his nomination letter.

While most members might not know Sanford, the BakerHostetler partner has been a central figure in the Society of Professional Journalists' advocacy efforts since November 1980, when he began as the Society's attorney.

He has defended the First Amendment and freedom of information, and worked through employment contracts, tax law and real estate. He's organized lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., and has prepared SPJ leaders to testify before Congress at least a dozen times. His most memorable: testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, with Bob Schieffer of CBS News, on efforts to gut the Freedom of Information Act.

It's because of Sanford's work that SPJ and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation gained a presence on the national stage of media law, and why the Society is a national leader in the fight for a free press.

"SPJ's work in courtrooms and on Capitol Hill has been, and continues to be, critical to preserving the rights of journalists to serve the public," Sanford said. "The [Legal Defense Fund's] constant support of state and national FOI battles puts our money and mouths into action."

Before going to law school, Sanford worked as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal. Now, he's one of America's leading media lawyers.

"As a former reporter, I always wanted to combine journalism and the law protecting free expression," Sanford said. "Forty years of work in the trenches has given me an invaluable perspective on emerging issues in digital communication and the dizzying gyrations in Washington."

Paul McMasters, SPJ president 1993-94 and 1990 Wells Memorial Key recipient, said in nominating Sanford that he is a great First Amendment advocate and freedom of information attorney. …

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