Jack C. Landau

Monday, January 30, 2006

An award-winning journalist as well as a lawyer, Jack C. Landau was the first executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, serving from 1974 until 1985.

He helped form the organization in 1970. He was an early and effective advocate for journalists’ access to government information under the Freedom of Information Act, and testified before Congress on several occasions.

In the early '80s, the Reporters Committee under Landau’s direction assisted in filing more than 600 FOIA requests during one 18-month period and participated in filing a number of legal briefs in access cases. He helped establish the Freedom of Information Service Center.

The journalist began his career with newspapers in New York and went on to work for the Associated Press and The Washington Post in the 1960s, before establishing himself as a U.S. Supreme Court reporter for Newhouse Newspapers.

He served as a spokesman for Attorney General John Mitchell early in the Nixon administration, helping to come up with new rules requiring the attorney general's approval for a news-media subpoena.

The Reporters Committee lists several noteworthy initiatives during his tenure: a hotline for reporters to call when they faced challenges; a newsletter now known as The News Media & the Law; and advocacy for shield laws to protect reporters from being forced to disclose confidential sources.

Landau died Aug. 9, 2008.

Charter member of the Hall of Fame.