By TASHA TSIAPERAS
The Dallas Morning News
Published: 13 December 2012 11:12 PM
Robert W. Decherd, chairman, president and chief executive officer of A.H. Belo Corporation, parent company of The Dallas Morning News, and non-executive chairman of Belo Corp. has been recognized for his leadership in protecting the freedom of the press.
The Radio Television Digital News Foundation will honor Decherd and two others at the 23rd annual First Amendment Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., in March.
Decherd will receive the First Amendment Leadership Award, which is given to a business leader who works to guard press freedoms.
Candy Crowley, chief political correspondent for CNN, will receive the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award, and NBC News Partnerships vice president Lloyd Siegel will be presented the First Amendment Service award.
“I’m very pleased to receive it,” Decherd said Thursday. “I think it’s a great acknowledgement of what our company has done over several decades to support the freedom of the press and freedom of information.”
Decherd helped found the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas in 1979. The organization seeks transparency in governmental decisions, and Decherd was its first president, serving until 1982.
When the foundation was launched, “there really wasn’t an organization in the state to protect the right to get information from various public entities,” Decherd said.
Under his direction, Belo has continued to fund the foundation and has lobbied for reporter shield laws in Austin and Washington.
Decherd said that in recent decades, he has noticed an improvement in the availability of information to news media.
“It was extraordinarily difficult to extract information from various public bodies, and that has changed,” he said.
Decherd previously has received the James Madison Award from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, the Freedom of Speech Award from the Media Institute, and the Mayborn Award for Community Leadership from the Texas Daily Newspaper Association.