HONOREE RICHARD N. WINFIELD
Global Pro Bono Visionary Award
Richard N. Winfield
Founder, ISLP Media Law Program
Few champions of freedom of the press understand the global media landscape as well as ISLP's Richard (Dick) Winfield. His vision of exporting the matrix of media freedom has expanded the realm of possibilities for expressional rights worldwide. His wealth of knowledge, intellectual rigor and innate humanity have inspired a committed corps of leading international media law experts to work tirelessly with him to bring that vision closer to reality for journalists, media organizations and citizens around the globe.
Richard N. Winfield
Founder, ISLP Media Law Program
Since the mid-1990s, the pro bono Media Law Working Group led by Dick Winfield has defended journalists facing prosecution under repressive regimes and has assisted more progressive foreign governments to enact media-protective laws and policies. For the last 15 years, the Media Law Working Group has continued its global pro bono campaign to protect journalists and to reform media laws abroad under auspices of ISLP.
Under Dick’s visionary leadership, the ISLP Media Law Working Group has helped to strengthen legal protections for journalists in more than 20 countries on four continents. Members of the Working Group have submitted amici curiae briefs in media freedom cases before the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the East African Court of Justice, and in national courts. They have personally trained and mentored dozens of media lawyers to pick up the mantle in transitional democracies. They have provided indigenous NGOs with expert pre-publication reviews of exposes of human rights abuses and environmental degradation. They have worked side-by-side with foreign ministers, Parliamentarians, journalists and media organizations to abrogate criminal defamation laws, to enact freedom of information statutes, and to improve both government and media transparency.
For ISLP, Dick conceived, compiled, contributed to and edited the anthology, Exporting the Matrix: The Campaign to Reform Media Laws Abroad, published in June 2012 by Carolina Academic Press. He also conceived, compiled and co-authored the monograph Breathing Life into Freedom of Information Laws: The Challenges of Implementation in the Democratizing World, published in 2013 by the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy, in partnership with ISLP. His commentary and articles on international media law topics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Dick’s unwavering commitment to press freedom is reflected in all aspects of his past and present professional life — his ongoing global pro bono work for ISLP; the popular courses he currently teaches on comparative mass media law at Columbia Law school and mass media and Internet law at Fordham Law School; and his past representation of journalists and news organizations as a partner in Rogers & Wells (now Clifford Chance US LLP). Over the course of a legal career spanning more than half a century, Dick served as outside general counsel for the Associated Press, the world’s largest and oldest news organization, in hundreds of litigations involving libel, access, prior restraint, reporter’s privilege and freedom of information issues. He also represented Newsday, Time, Newsweek and Knight-Rider in First Amendment litigation, and CBS, ABC, NBC, Gannet and Newhouse in legislative matters. His ability to disagree without ever being disagreeable — to find common ground to work through challenging issues and to identify workable solutions to complex problems — has earned him the enduring admiration and affection of a legion of clients, colleagues and former adversaries.
Since its inception, Dick has served as ISLP Treasurer and Member of its Board of Directors. He has served as chairman of the World Press Freedom Committee and the Fund for Peace, as a trustee of Freedom House, as state chairman of the Media Law Committee of the New York State Bar Association and, for 24 years, as co-chair of the Practising Law Institute libel and newsgathering litigation conferences. He is a frequent speaker on First Amendment issues at national and regional editors’ conferences and at international, national and local Bar meetings. Before joining the Rogers & Wells law firm, Dick served in government as an assistant counsel to Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, special counsel to the New York State Public Employment Relations Board, and co-counsel to the Governor’s Committee on Public Employee Relations. While an officer on active duty in the U.S. Navy, Dick served two years at sea and two years teaching European and American diplomatic history at the U.S. Naval Academy. He holds a B.A. from Villanova University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Dick’s fulfilling professional life is surpassed only by the personal life he has shared for more than 56 years with the former Deborah (Debbie) Trainer, a now-retired adjunct professor of music theory at the Steinhardt School of Education of New York University. The shared vision of Dick and Debbie Winfield has produced three accomplished children and six adorable grandchildren. The close-knit family often celebrates holidays and special occasions — globally.