Reporter and Press Freedom Advocate James Risen to Join The Intercept and First Look Media

The renowned former New York Times reporter, who broke many of biggest stories since 9/11 and battled the Justice Department in a seven-year fight, will be reporting on national security and defending press freedom as director of First Look’s Press Freedom Defense Fund.

Photo: Provided by James Risen

James Risen, who, as a best-selling author and New York Times reporter, has broken some of the biggest stories of the post-9/11 period, is joining The Intercept as our senior national security correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. Risen will write a reported column on national security and other national issues, as well as help to lead The Intercept’s investigative reporting efforts.

Risen will have a unique dual leadership position at First Look Media, because in addition to his editorial role at The Intercept, he will also serve as director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund, which is dedicated to supporting news organizations, journalists, and whistleblowers in legal fights where a substantial public interest, freedom of the press, or related human or civil right is at stake. Recently, the Press Freedom Defense Fund announced its support for the legal defense of Reality Winner, who is accused of leaking a top-secret NSA document on Russian election hacking to The Intercept.

Risen was himself a target of the U.S. government’s crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers. He waged a seven-year battle, risking jail after the Bush administration and later the Obama administration sought to force him to testify and reveal his confidential sources in a leak investigation. Risen never gave in, and the government finally backed down.

As a New York Times reporter, Risen won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his stories about the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program, and he was a member of the reporting team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks and terrorism.

“I am incredibly excited by this amazing and unique opportunity to combine my journalism with efforts to defend press freedom,” said Risen. “I am honored to help lead the fund as both America and the world face unprecedented threats to freedom of the press, while also writing and reporting and working with the team at The Intercept to continue to build one of the most important investigative reporting outlets in the nation.”

Risen began his career as a reporter at the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, and later worked at the Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Los Angeles Times. He joined the New York Times in 1998, where he remained until earlier this summer. He is the author of four books: “Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War”; “The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown With the KGB”;  “State of War, The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration”; and “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War.”

He will begin in September.

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