From Woodward & Bernstein to Holme Roberts & Owen

A former investigative reporter advises newspapers on where to draw the line        

Published in 2008 Northern California Super Lawyers magazine

By Paul Nolan on June 15, 2008

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Roger Myers knows how a breaking story can impact the pulse of a newsroom. He fed off of that energy as a reporter and editor for three Northern California dailies between 1980 and 1985.

The 49-year-old partner at Holme Roberts & Owen in San Francisco still finds himself in plenty of news huddles, but today he’s more cautious about putting something in print than he was as an eager reporter. Myers serves as newsroom and litigation counsel to more than 20 newspapers in the western U.S., as well as online content distributors and creators such as San Francisco-based CNET Networks.

Myers, who graduated with a degree in journalism from San José State, was involved in numerous newsroom debates during his reporting career about what information could be published and what had to be left out. He entered the University of California at Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law in 1985 intending to return to the newsroom and use his knowledge of the law to be a better reporter. Instead, he moved to San Francisco and became a full-time attorney. His current position allows him to have a foot in both law and journalism.

“In investigative journalism, you make a lot of judgments on the fly. You have to know the law very well and you have to know the journalism business, so it helps to have my background,” he says. “I am aware of the realities that journalists are dealing with. I know they may not have the answers to all of the questions we’d like before something runs.”

Myers has faith that newspapers, which are struggling amid large declines in circulation and advertising revenue, will emerge intact. In fact, he predicts once they figure out how to make themselves viable on the Internet, newspapers will once again be “cash cows.”

“It’s going to take a while to get from here to there, but newspapers have what everybody wants—content,” he says.

Myers has a front-row seat on the inner workings of today’s journalism outlets not only through his work, but also through his wife, who is an investigative reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. He says that although many colleagues and friends from his newspaper days have taken buyouts or left for other careers, he’s happy to still be a part of the news industry.

“I miss the writing sometimes, but I enjoy being exposed to numerous journalism vehicles rather than just one newspaper,” he says.

 

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