Updated at 3:19 p.m.
Bruce Brown, a former journalist and partner with the Washington office of Baker & Hostetler, is the new executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The organization announced its selection in a press release today.
Brown's practice at Baker has spanned all areas of media law, from libel and freedom of press cases to copyright and invasion of privacy matters. He'll remain of counsel at the firm after he begins his tenure with the committee on Sept. 10, according to the release.
In an interview this afternoon, Brown said that the committee "is really a great platform because it is the one organization that speaks to the courts, to Congress, to the public, within the journalism community all about the legal issues that affect the free press. For someone interested in journalism and someone interested in law and media law, it really provides a unique opportunity to work in this area."
Brown said his short-term goals include focusing on challenges facing national security reporters. "There's an important task in making sure that the public interest in having this kind of free and open discussion that we have always enjoyed about national security affairs remains intact," he said.
Long-term, Brown said he hopes to build more relationships with new media companies that distribute journalism, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Tony Mauro, a reporter for The National Law Journal/Legal Times and chairman of the committee's steering committee, said in a statement that Brown "brings precisely the right combination of skills and experience to lead the Reporters Committee and to widen its reach within the ever-expanding universe of news media."
Brown succeeds Lucy Dalglish, who recently left the committee after 12 years as executive director to become dean of the Philip Merrill School of Journalism at the University of Maryland.
Before practicing law, Brown was a reporter. He covered courts for Legal Times and was a newsroom assistant to David Broder at The Washington Post. Besides his practice, he's remained involved in the media world in other ways, including as co-director of the First Amendment Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law and as an adjunct faculty member for Georgetown University's master's program in journalism.
Recently, Brown's work has included representing media groups seeking access to jury questionnaires in the Chandra Levy murder trial; representing a Washington City Paper reporter facing a libel lawsuit by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder; and representing a colleague of blogger Andrew Breitbart against a defamation lawsuit filed by former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod.
Brown has also represented The National Law Journal and Legal Times in previous legal matters.
"As a former reporter, Bruce knows and shares the values of freedom of the press and sunshine in government that are essential to our profession and to the Reporters Committee's mission. As a highly respected media lawyer, he has been a strong advocate for the principles that benefit journalists of all kinds," Mauro said. "Bruce is also the right person to help build a strong financial base that will enable the Reporters Committee to thrive far into the future."