J. Laurent (Larry) Scharff

J Laurent (Larry) Scharff

As general counsel of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, Larry Scharff advocated strong freedom of information acts and led efforts to increase access to information through federal and state law on open records, open meetings, cameras in the courtroom and remote-sensing satellites.

His support of FOIA was largely focused on the legislative activities of news media representatives concerning the 1974 and 1986 amendments to the federal act, as well as the Privacy Act of 1974. On behalf of RTNDA, he took a lead in legislation-drafting sessions with task forces of news media representatives and in other meetings with senators, congressmen and their aides.

Scharff’s efforts on Capitol Hill helped enact the favorable congressional amendments of 1974. He worked closely with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and then-congressional aide John Podesta against proposals to restrict public access to law enforcement and national defense records in 1986. Beginning in 1981, he created and supervised the annual revisions of the RTNDA publication, News Media Coverage of Judicial Proceedings with Cameras and Microphones: A Survey of the States.

He is the author of numerous papers and articles, including “RTNDA Launches Congressional Initiative on Remote-Sensing from Outer Space,” in the April 1986 Communicator, and “Remote-Sensing Journalism: Resolving National Security Concerns Under the First Amendment,” presented before the San Diego Communications Council.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.