Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press launches Local Legal Initiative

A growing number of local and regional news organizations and journalists lack the legal support they need to pursue enterprise and investigative stories in their communities. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is helping to change that. 

With generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Reporters Committee is expanding to provide direct legal services to more journalists at the local level. For the first time in our 50-year history, multiple Reporters Committee lawyers will be based in different locations across the country to support local enterprise and investigative journalism.

The Reporters Committee will employ a lawyer in up to five jurisdictions in 2020 to help local journalists and news organizations defend their rights to gather and report the news, gain access to public records and court proceedings, and hold state and local government agencies and officials accountable.

The Reporters Committee will work closely and collaboratively with local and regional partners. Potential partners include, for example, nonprofit and for-profit local and regional news organizations, state and local press associations, law firms, state and regional nonprofit organizations, universities and other educational institutions, and anyone committed to helping local journalism thrive.

If you are part of a local journalism community that would benefit from the legal support of a Reporters Committee attorney in your city or state, tell us why.

Submit a proposal by 11:59 p.m. ET October 31, 2019, highlighting:

  • Local and regional news organizations and journalists whose reporting would benefit from additional legal support, and how their reporting would benefit.
  • The biggest legal challenges facing enterprise and investigative reporters in your city or state.
  • How additional pro bono legal support would enable enterprise and investigative reporting about state and local issues affecting communities in your city or state.

Because we believe that supporting vibrant and high-impact local journalism is a team effort, joint proposals are strongly encouraged.

Criteria for Selection

All proposals received by the Reporters Committee will be carefully considered. Criteria for selecting locations for Reporters Committee attorneys will include geographic diversity, the need for additional legal support in the jurisdiction, the presence of local and regional partners, and the ability of a member of the Reporters Committee’s legal team to make a measurable impact in that jurisdiction, both in terms of facilitating important local journalism and in improving the overall ecosystem for local journalism through impact litigation, training, and other work.

Submit a proposal here.

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