SPLC’s Dick Goehler receives prestigious Society of Professional Journalists' ''Fellow'' award


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Beverly Keneagy904.626.0017 / bkeneagy@splc.org

Cincinnati attorney Richard M. Goehler, who served as Chair of the Student Press Law Center’s Board of Directors until his death earlier this year, has been named a Fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists for his lifetime service to the field.

Being named a “Fellow of the Society” is the highest honor SPJ bestows upon a journalist for extraordinary contributions to the profession. The posthumous recognition will be made at the SPJ/Radio Television Digital News Association convention in New Orleans on Sept. 27.

Goehler, 54, died on March 15 after a 10-month battle with leukemia. He was a partner with Frost Brown Todd LLC and practiced in media law, including digital, interactive and social media, advertising law, copyright and trademark.

Goehler has been an ally to the SPLC and student media for nearly two decades, providing countless hours of free representation to high school and college journalists in need of assistance. He was nominated for the SPJ honor by SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte.

“As Chair of the Board of Directors of the Student Press Law Center, Dick Goehler was a leader in promoting the availability of free legal services to any student journalist in need of assistance, and he and his firm provided more pro-bono representation to students than any other in the SPLC’s nationwide volunteer network,” LoMonte wrote in the nomination.

SPLC Chair Mark Stodder of The Dolan Company said: “It is a great honor for Dick Goehler’s legacy and entirely appropriate for the Pioneer Award to come his way. Dick was a pioneer in providing free legal assistance to student journalists whose First Amendment rights were under attack and helped shape the vital services provided by the SPLC. This is wonderful news.”

Goehler was nationally known as a premier media and First Amendment litigator, and was chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section on Communications Law in 2009-10.

Goehler was known for his successful defense of Clear Channel Broadcasting, the Scripps newspaper chain and other media clients in defamation actions. But beyond his paying clientele, Goehler took on — free of charge — some of the most challenging First Amendment cases of the last two decades, including helping win an extremely important victory for the student media in Kincaid v. Gibson, a 2001 Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals case ruling that a public university could not override the editorial discretion of college yearbook editors.

Reginald Stuart of The McClatchy Company, a SPLC Board member who was named an SPJ Fellow of the Society in 2006, described Goehler as a humble volunteer who never sought recognition for his numerous accomplishments.

“Dick Goehler was more than an esteemed First Amendment lawyer. He was the quintessential volunteer who never sought the accolades he deserved for his wise advice and counsel and never minded working the trenches outside the spotlight. We lost him far too soon in life. We did and will benefit from his wisdom, his vision, his guidance. SPJ's decision to recognize him as a Fellow of the Society does a great honor to him for his service to our country in promoting and defending the First Amendment and its values. I hope he left us a clone of himself.”

LoMonte concluded in his nomination: “Had Dick’s life not been cut short, there is no question that upon his eventual retirement, we would be showering him with this and other career-achievement accolades. It is appropriate that the SPJ afford its highest recognition — Fellow of the Society — to a very, very good friend of journalists whose advocacy will be greatly missed.”

Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has been devoted to educating high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the First Amendment, and supporting the student news media in covering important issues free from censorship.  The Center provides free information and educational materials for student journalists and their teachers on a wide variety of legal topics on its website at www.splc.org.

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