Kathleen A. Kirby

Kathleen A. Kirby

Kathleen Kirby is an attorney with Wiley Rein & Fielding in Washington, D.C., and counsel to the Radio-Television News Directors Association. A former radio broadcaster, Kirby has been a strong advocate for the First Amendment rights of the electronic media, leading efforts to increase access to information and oppose content restrictions, for almost 20 years.

Kirby routinely assists radio and television news directors with state and local efforts to gain access to records, meetings, courts and other government information. She has championed efforts in numerous states to open courts to cameras and microphones, and has taken a lead role in working with federal lawmakers to move legislation that would open all federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, to electronic coverage.

On behalf of RTNDA, Kirby was instrumental in persuading the Court to release audiotapes at the conclusion of the historic oral argument in Bush v. Gore. She is working with representatives from numerous journalism organizations on federal legislative efforts to strengthen FOIA and create a federal shield law.

Kirby is a frequent author and lecturer on the legal aspects of newsgathering and First Amendment values. She discusses legal developments affecting FOI, free press and free speech in “Legal Notes,” a monthly column for RTNDA’s Communicator magazine, and created RTNDA’s online state-by-state guide to cameras in the courtroom. She wrote Keeping It Legal: A Media Law Handbook for the Newsroom, a practical reference guide for news managers facing FOI and other legal issues.

She is also vice chair of the board of directors for the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.