News

Format: 2018-09-23
Format: 2018-09-23
September 21, 2018
This week we published our 2017 Annual Report.   2017 brought new challenges and with them new opportunities for the Reporters Committee to showcase our commitment and dedication to providing legal services and support to journalists in the advancement of press freedom. When you look at the numbers, the need for our services is stark: Our attorneys were lead counsel in 23 litigation matters, filed more than 40 friend-of-the-court briefs and letters on behalf of journalists and news organizations, and assisted more than 300 reporters who reached out to our hotline with questions.    Through all of this, the Reporters Committee remains steadfast in the defense of press freedom.   
September 12, 2018
A Texas law aimed at making it easier to dismiss meritless lawsuits intended to chill speech should apply in federal court, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 39 media organizations argued in a friend-of-the-court brief filed last week in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the brief filed in Rudkin v. Roger Beasley Imports, Inc., the media coalition urges the federal appeals court to reverse a district court's ruling and hold that the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) applies in federal court.   
September 5, 2018
Amid an alarming confluence of threats to journalists and the news media, there is a lack of urgency among American voters around the idea that press freedom is at risk in the U.S., according to a new research report released Wednesday by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.    A majority of voters, 52 percent, said they did not see press freedom as under threat — a lack of perceived risk that was even higher among some when viewed through a partisan lens: 66 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Independents said they perceived little or no threat to the press, while just 38 percent of Democrats gave the same response.  
August 21, 2018
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 35 media organizations asked a California appeals court to uphold a district court's decision to release videotape recordings of the 12-day bench trial in January 2010 that challenged the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment adopted in 2008 denying same-sex couples the right to marry. The district court ruled that the recordings could be released in 2020 after KQED, a public media broadcasting service in San Francisco, sought access to the recordings.  
August 16, 2018
Local news outlets leading the campaign show why Americans should defend a free press amid attempts to discredit journalists   Today, more than 300 newspapers published editorials against the current administration's continuous stream of invective against the news media. The editorials come on the heels of an uptick in the president's rhetoric, including a tweet this Sunday saying the media "purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!"    "We are not the enemy of the people," said Marjorie Pritchard, the deputy editorial page editor for the Boston Globe and the organizer of the campaign. "The impact of Trump's assault on journalism looks different in Boise than it does in Boston. Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming."  
August 14, 2018
On Tuesday, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 30 media organizations urged a circuit court in Florida to dismiss a petition by the School Board of Broward County to hold The Sun-Sentinel and two of its reporters in contempt for publishing an article containing information from a report that the school board had released to the public.   
August 10, 2018
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 11 media organizations are asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate a broad gag order barring parties, attorneys, witnesses, potential witnesses and courthouse personnel in 26 related civil cases in North Carolina from speaking to the press.   The cases involve lawsuits against Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods that contracts farmers to raise hogs, by neighbors who allege that the company's hog farms create a nuisance. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that Murphy-Brown's waste management practices — such as storing manure in open-air lagoons and spraying liquid waste on farmland — have negatively impacted the plaintiffs' health and quality of life.  
August 9, 2018
In early June 2018, the FBI arrested James Wolfe, the former security director for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (“SSCI”), on charges of lying to FBI investigators about his contacts with several reporters.1 During the investigation, the FBI seized years of phone and email records from national security and federal law enforcement reporter Ali Watkins—the first time that appears to have happened under the Trump administration.2   Some have raised concerns that the seizure of records from a reporter could presage an escalation in the Trump administration’s aggressive crackdown on what the attorney general called a “culture of leaks” in an August 2017 speech.  
August 8, 2018
UPDATE (Aug. 8, 2018): This post has been update to include information provided by the City of Charlottesville and the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPD) related to media operations and briefing areas, prohibited items, and contact information for press inquiries and in the event of an arrest or other incident. Ahead of planned demonstrations marking the one-year anniversary of the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville that turned violent, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reminds journalists that our Legal Defense Hotline is available seven days a week for journalists who need legal support. Reporters Committee attorneys will be available in both Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville.
August 7, 2018
On July 30, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and five media organizations asked a California appeals court to uphold a superior court ruling that dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by celebrity fitness instructor Richard Simmons against American Media, Inc. (AMI) after it published an article that incorrectly stated that Simmons was transitioning from male to female.  
August 7, 2018
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sent a letter to Facebook on Monday urging it to change its terms of service (TOS) to allow journalists and researchers to automatically collect data from the platform and create accounts using pseudonyms or for fictional users. The "safe harbor" that the Knight Institute proposes for both techniques — "scraping" data and the use of "test" accounts — includes strong privacy protections for Facebook users while also protecting the use of these tools, which can be especially important for reporters and researchers investigating discriminatory practices among Facebook's advertisers.  
August 2, 2018
On Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a resolution condemning the White House for restricting media access and affirming the need for and importance of an unfettered free press. The resolution comes after the Trump administration barred CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from attending a press event on July 25.  
July 13, 2018
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is seeking to unseal court documents that could shed light on the alleged misconduct of three Chicago police officers facing conspiracy and other charges related to the October 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.    Police dashcam footage of the shooting — which led to protests, public outrage, and a Justice Department investigation into the Chicago Police Department — showed McDonald holding a knife and walking away from police officers when then-Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shot him 16 times. The three officers — David March, Joseph Walsh, and Thomas Gaffney, who is still employed by the police department but currently suspended — are charged with official misconduct, obstruction of justice, and conspiring to obstruct justice in the investigation of Van Dyke, who is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges.
July 9, 2018
In a victory for free expression and online speech, the California Supreme Court ruled last week that Yelp, an online platform that publishes third-party reviews of local businesses, could not be ordered to take down defamatory reviews and ratings. The ruling upholds protections that prevent online publishers — including online news publishers, who often host and moderate forums and comment sections on their websites — from being compelled to remove speech that others have posted to their platforms.  
June 28, 2018
Last week, Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown joined journalists and media lawyers at the Center for a New American Security’s annual conference to discuss the challenges journalists face when reporting on sensitive national security issues, including the government's seizure of journalists' records as part of leaks investigations.   CNAS Adjunct Senior Fellow Carrie Cordero moderated the panel discussion, "Reporting America's Secrets: Journalism, Classified Information, and the Age of Leaks," with Brown, Just Security Editorial Director Kate Brannen, Knight First Amendment Institute Senior Staff Attorney Alex Abdo and Washington Post Staff Writer Shane Harris.