News

Format: 2018-04-23
Format: 2018-04-23
April 23, 2018
Earlier this month, an Oklahoma judge ruled that the Governor’s Office and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) violated the state’s Open Records Act by failing to provide timely access to records, the first ruling of its kind in the state.  
April 18, 2018
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of California heard oral arguments in Hassell v. Bird, a case that could have implications for whether courts can force online publishers to take down third-party content without first accounting for the publishers’ First Amendment interests.  
April 13, 2018
A draft position announced by Canada's Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) earlier this year has troubling implications for online freedom of expression and the right to receive information.  
April 10, 2018
Following a lawsuit brought by two freelance journalists represented by attorneys from the Reporters Committee, the public will have access to more information about how the Charlottesville Police Department and Virginia State Police planned for the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally. The rally left 19 injured and led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, as well as two Virginia state troopers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates, who were killed in a helicopter crash while monitoring the day’s events.  
April 10, 2018
Late last week, Bloomberg Law reported on a contract solicitation at the Department of Homeland Security for a “media monitoring” service that would track almost 300,000 news sources globally, in more than 100 languages. According to the bid, DHS wants the ability to track “media influencers,” to query the database for all coverage related to DHS or “a particular event” and to follow social media conversations. The desired database would also be able to categorize coverage by “sentiment.”  
April 5, 2018
In the last few weeks, attorneys for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have secured four major victories for journalists and news organizations seeking access to public records and hearings. Read about the work, and the stories that have come from them, below.    Access to government data shouldn’t cost $174,000  
April 3, 2018
The most perilous place for a journalist in the U.S. last year was at a protest, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press that surveys the 2017 data from the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. Of the 122 incidents threatening press freedom that the tracker logged last year, nearly half occurred at protests, where journalists faced physical attacks from police and demonstrators, were arrested by law enforcement, and had their equipment seized and, in some cases, searched.  
April 3, 2018
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press secured an important victory last Thursday in Tokar v. Department of Justice currently pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Rudolph Contreras held that the U.S. Department of Justice must provide Dylan Tokar, a reporter with the trade publication Just Anti-Corruption, the names of individuals nominated to monitor corporations’ compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), along with records related to the selection process.   
March 29, 2018
Earlier this month, in celebration of Sunshine Week, we turned our attention to highlighting the value of transparency and public information to our communities, both large and small. However, year-round we must continue to remember the importance of advocating for transparency and work to protect the rights of journalists who are shining a light into the darkest corners so the people can hold government accountable.   That’s why, in addition to fighting for access to legislative and executive branch records under freedom of information laws, year-round the Reporters Committee pursues litigation in state and federal courts in a concentrated effort to improve access to information about the judicial system. Under the First Amendment and common law, the press and public have a right to access court records and proceedings, but many courts continue to shield this information from public view.  
March 13, 2018
This post originally appeared on the Association of Health Care Journalists’s “Covering Health” blog here. In honor of Sunshine Week, AHCJ invited organizations devoted to government transparency to write about how their work can help health care reporters.   Sunshine Week may be just one week out of the year, but the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press works every day to protect the right to public information. We have seen firsthand the important role that public information plays in producing more complete and accurate reporting on issues that deeply affect our communities — how taxpayer dollars are spent, if elected officials are acting in the best interests of those they serve, and whether those in government are abusing the power they hold.  
February 21, 2018
The Reporters Committee and a coalition of nine media organizations are asking a North Carolina appeals court to overturn an unprecedented lower court ruling that allowed nearly all court records in a civil case to be filed completely under seal. The docket, names of both parties and their lawyers, and sealing orders are all secret in the case, Doe v. Doe, essentially concealing its very existence.   The Fayetteville Observer brought a lawsuit to unseal the records after it discovered the case involved a prominent local businessman who had reached settlements with multiple minors over allegations of sexual abuse.  
February 20, 2018
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging a Connecticut judge to unseal two court records related to the sentencing of a man convicted of sex trafficking a minor and possessing heroin with intent to distribute.   In the case, United States v. Gomez, the Reporters Committee is representing Connecticut newspaper The Day, which intervened in the case to unseal the sentencing memoranda for Ramon Gomez. Gomez received an eight-year sentence in federal prison with five years of supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.   
February 14, 2018
A Nevada court’s ruling that the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Associated Press must destroy and stop reporting on an autopsy report that another judge declared a public record just a week before is an unconstitutional restraint on the news outlets’ First Amendment right to publish.   On Feb. 9, a trial court judge ordered the two news outlets to forfeit one of 58 anonymized autopsy reports for people killed in the Oct. 1 Las Vegas mass shooting. The order came after the widow of an off-duty police officer who was killed in the shooting filed a lawsuit claiming the release of her husband’s autopsy report violated her privacy rights. The week prior, the Review-Journal and Associated Press successfully sued the county coroner’s office for access to anonymized versions of the 58 reports, including the officer’s.   
January 24, 2018
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a lawsuit against United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over the agencies’ failure to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records relating to a summons the agencies issued to Twitter in March.   This past April, CBP sought to unmask the authors of an anonymous Twitter account publishing viewpoints that are critical of President Trump’s immigration policies using the handle @ALT_uscis.  According to a lawsuit filed by Twitter, a CBP agent sent Twitter a summons by fax on March 14, 2017, ordering the company to provide certain records relating to the @ALT_uscis account, including user names, account login, phone numbers, and mailing and IP addresses.  
January 19, 2018
Lawyers for journalist Aaron Cantú filed a motion Friday to dismiss charges stemming from his arrest while covering the Inauguration Day protests on Jan. 20, 2017.   Cantú, who now works for the Santa Fe Reporter, was covering the protests in Washington, D.C., as a freelance journalist. He was one of several protesters, journalists and others who were penned in by police for hours before many of them were arrested.   The motion argued that the indictment violates Cantú’s First Amendment rights as a journalist and that the District of Columbia’s riot laws are unconstitutionally vague as applied in this case.