St. Cloud State to bestow First Amendment Award

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Lucy A. Dalglish, who has spent more than 20 years as a journalist and lawyer working for openness in government, will receive the Defense of the First Amendment Award on Friday, April 11, from the St. Cloud State University Department of Mass Communications.

The department voted unanimously to bestow the award on Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in suburban Washington.  She began her career and her freedom of information work as a reporter and lawyer in Minnesota.

“Dalglish has been standing in the crosshairs of the government versus free press issues for years,” said SCSU journalism Professor Michael Vadnie, who teaches media law courses.  “She aggressively assails government secrecy while defending efforts to make inroads into established or necessary emerging news media rights.”

Dalglish will also be the keynote speaker on “Protecting Reporters, Sources and Access to Information,” the topic of St. Cloud State’s annual First Amendment Forum that will begin at 9 a.m. April 11 in the Atwood Memorial Center Theatre.

Dalglish is a strong advocate of a federal shield that would help reporters protect confidential sources.

A dramatic example is that of former USA Today reporter Toni Locy, who may be fined more than $45,500 over a 21-day period for failing to reveal sources for a story she wrote on the government’s Anthrax investigation.  “Toni Locy faces possible financial ruin for doing her job, and doing it well,” Dalglish said.

“Of all the federal court sanctions on reporters for refusing to reveal confidential sources over the past several years, this is perhaps the most disturbing,” Dalglish said.  “Toni Locy is being punished for doing what reporters are supposed to do: making sure important information gets to the public about whether the government had the investigation into a major public health threat under control.  We ask the U.S. Senate to take up the Free Flow of Information Act as soon as possible.”

One of the nation’s foremost advocates for public access to government information, Dalglish often appears on national television. She has made speeches televised on C-SPAN and has appeared on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CBS Evening News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC’s Good Morning America and FOX News with Britt Hume.

Since 2000, she has been executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va., where she is responsible for the12-member staff of lawyers and journalists, who work to defend the First Amendment rights and freedom of information interests of the media.

The group publishes The News Media and the Lawquarterly magazine, Media Law Updatenewsletter and Reporters Committee Web site at  Her legal staff handles more than 2,000 hotline calls and writes or participates in about 20 legal briefs a year.

Dalglish has testified before Congress several times to advocate freedom of information and a federal shield law.  She also has estified to legislative and judicial task forces on access to court and other governmental records in several states.

Upon graduation from the University of North Dakota in 1980, Dalglish went to work as a general assignment, education and suburban reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where she also worked in a variety of editing positions, including city editor, national editor and assistant news editor.

As national/foreign editor in 1991 and 1992, she supervised the Washington Bureau and the coverage of the Gulf War, the Soviet Coup, presidential campaigns, Los Angeles riots, and the Thomas-Hill hearings.

When she started covering the federal courts in 1988, Dalglish also became a member of the national board of directors for the Society of Professional Journalists.  She held national or state office from then until she joined the Reporters Committee.  She had been president of the student SPJ chapter at UND in 1979, and she was president of the Minnesota professional SPJ chapter in 1985-86 and 1992-93.  She served as chairwoman of SPJ’s National Freedom of Information Committee from 1992 to 1995 and chairwoman of the Minnesota Freedom of Information Committee from 1998 to 2000.

In 1999, the Minnesota chapter gave her the Peter S. Popovich Freedom of Information Award and the American Library Association placed her on the “Roll of Honor” for her work on behalf of Minnesota librarians on First Amendment issues.  In 1996, she was one of 24 journalists, lawyers, historians, educators, and members of Congress inducted into the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the law.

She has served on a number of committees involving the media and lawyers’ committees for the Minnesota Bar Association.  In 1992-93, she was a journalist representative on the Bar-Media Committee, and from 1995 to 1999, she was a lawyer on the same committee, which she chaired from 1997 to 2000.

Dalglish received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota in 1980, a master of studies in law from Yale Law School in 1988, and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1995.  She has been admitted to practice by the bar of Minnesota, the federal districts in Minnesota, eight U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1995, she went to work for the Dorsey and Whitney law firm in downtown Minneapolis and worked on a number of First Amendment and media cases, including ones for ABC News, KARE television, the Gannett Company, and the Student Press Law Center.  Since 1995, she has been authorized to speak to the media on behalf of the American Bar Association on several issues.

Dalglish began her journalism career as a summer intern and part-time reporter at the Grand Forks Herald, where Vadnie also worked.

“Lucy’s education and experience in journalism and media law have contributed to her staunch stand on press freedom,” Vadnie said.  “And she is never shy about fighting the battles that need to be addressed, all for the benefit of an informed citizenry.”

The annual First Amendment Forum has been a collaborative effort involving the professional community and the students and faculty at St. Cloud State for 35 years.

More information is available from student Kevin Hurd or faculty member Bill Huntzicker at or 320-308-3293.

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