May 20, 2024

Preti’s Sig Schutz Recognized as Member of NHPR’s Pulitzer-Finalist Team

Preti First Amendment attorney Sig Schutz has been recognized as “a core member of the [NHPR] team” involved in a podcast honored as a Pulitzer Prize finalist in the audio journalism category.  The podcast The 13th Step is an extensively reported investigation of corruption and sexual abuse within the recovery industry. The 13th Step reporters and producers sought accountability, despite legal pressure.

In a feature about NHPR and The 13th Step’s team with nonprofit news organization Current, Schutz’s involvement is mentioned:

[Lead editor Allison] MacAdam wrote an inspirational quote at the top of her primary Google doc: ‘The best defense is the truth.’ It came from Sigmund Schutz, the team’s lead attorney.

The 13th Step and its production team have won a string of prestigious honors. The project earned a silver baton by the duPont-Columbia Awards and a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Lauren Chooljian, the host and lead reporter of The 13th Step, won a First Amendment Award, presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Best Reporting award in the Podcast Academy’s Ambies competition.

Chooljian’s initial reporting for the project was followed by multiple acts of vandalism at the homes of NHPR journalists involved in that reporting and the homes of their families. Following investigations by the FBI and state and local authorities, a federal grand jury indicted four men for their roles in an alleged campaign of intimidation against NHPR journalists. Two have pleaded guilty to felony charges. A civil lawsuit brought against NHPR, its journalists, and some of their sources by a central subject of the reporting was dismissed by a Rockingham County Superior Court judge earlier this year. Schutz represented NHPR in the lawsuit.

Schutz presented on the civil and criminal legal matters related to NHPR’s reporting at Existential Threats to Journalism and Free Speech at the 36th Annual Media and the Law Seminar in Kansas City in April 2024.