September 8, 2014

The New York Times

The New York Times’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan loves Jane Austen and prefers to read print, she told Pamela Paul for a new Times Insider feature, “By the Book.”

Sullivan also spoke about what she reads and what she wishes President Obama would read.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

I’d like him to read Jim Risen’s “State of War” and give some hard thought to whether the author really deserves to be prosecuted by his Justice Department for protecting one of his confidential sources in the book.

The president may also consider reading Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” to better understand Risen. In July of last year, Sullivan wrote about Risen and a federal appeals court ruling.

Sometimes James Risen feels like Jean Valjean, the beleaguered protagonist of “Les Miserables,” hounded for years by the authorities.

“They just keep coming at me,” Mr. Risen, a Times reporter in Washington, told me by phone last week. It has been 10 years since he learned of a secret C.I.A. program to interfere with Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, and six since he got an ominous FedEx package containing a government subpoena. Since then, it has been one legal hurdle after another, trying to stay out of court.

In March, Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon wrote about a panel on “Sources and Secrets.” Risen gave the opening address.

New York Times reporter James Risen, who is fighting an order that he testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer accused of leaking information to him, opened the conference earlier by saying the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting,” Risen said, to “create a path for accepted reporting.” Anyone journalist who exceeds those parameters, Risen said, “will be punished.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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