Judith Miller’s time in the hoosegow will not earn her a Conscience in Media Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), according to Editor & Publisher.
Following an earlier decision by the ASJA’s First Amendment Committee to give the “New York Times” reporter the award (which prompted one committee member to resign), the organization’s board of directors voted unanimously to not bestow the honor on the tight-lipped jailbird.
The board voted to not accept the committee’s decision to reward Miller, because “her entire career, and even her current actions in the Plame/CIA leak case, cast doubt on her credentials for this award.”
The group’s president, Jack El-Hai, posted an explanation on an internal list-serve yesterday, noting the opposition from the rank and file, and also mentioning two other reasons for the unanimous vote:
- “A feeling that Miller’s career, taken as a whole, did not make her the best candidate for the award”
- “Divided opinions on the board over whether her recent actions merit the award.”
The American Society of Journalists and Authors is a 50-year-old group of some 1,100 independent nonfiction writers.
Anita Bartholomew, a freelance journalist, quit the First Amendment Committee following the first vote. She wrote in her resignation letter:
“The First Amendment is designed to prevent government interference with a free press. Miller, by shielding a government official or officials who attempted to use the press to retaliate against a whistleblower, and scare off other would-be whistleblowers, has allied herself with government interference with, and censorship of, whistleblowers. When your source IS the government, and the government is attempting to use you to target a whistleblower, the notion of shielding a source must be reconsidered. To apply standard practices regarding sources to hiding wrongdoing at the highest levels of government perverts the intent of the First Amendment.”