Back in 1981, when CPJ was being formed and its board of directors assembled, Tony Lewis, who died today at age 85, was one of the first people we approached. As the author of books such as Gideon’s Trumpet, as a widely read columnist for The New York Times, and as an outspoken defender of press freedom, he seemed a natural choice for the board. At the time, CPJ was an idea without money, office, or staff, but Tony at once saw the value of such an organization and signed on. His presence on CPJ’s board and masthead helped give the organization immediate credibility; his devoted participation was invaluable as we expanded in size and mission over the next 30 years.
Tony’s input was especially important as a member of CPJ’s policy committee, helping it wrestle with such issues as who is a journalist and how to deal with U.S. cases. It was in recognition of his position as a clear-voiced proponent of the First Amendment and as a founding board member of CPJ that Tony was honored with the Burton Benjamin Award for lifetime achievement at our 2009 benefit. His presence at both board meetings and benefits will be greatly missed.