Already this year, under the new administration, journalists have faced new attacks on and challenges to freedom of the press. Here’s what we are doing to push back, defend reporters, and protect the flow of information to the public.
To kick off the year, we convened a group of leading media rights advocates to develop joint strategies for addressing these new threats and engaging the public in the fight for press freedoms. After that meeting we made a commitment, alongside several partner organizations, to document subpoenas, arrests, border stops and searches, and other efforts to undermine journalists’ ability to gather and report the news. That project will launch this summer. We’ve also developed new partnerships to expand our legal services to documentary filmmakers, freelance journalists and nonprofit newsrooms.
Following the arrests of reporters the weekend of the inauguration, we pressed federal prosecutors to release them and launched a web page tracking their cases. As always, our first priority was to ensure that every journalist in need had access to a lawyer. And shortly after the new administration authorized its first subpoena to a reporter, we filed an amicus brief in support of his motion to quash. The motion was granted, and the reporter was not required to testify.
In the first four months of the year, we filed 11 amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs joined by as many as 35 news organizations in cases ranging from an appeal of a libel claim against journalist James Risen to a petition for U.S. Supreme Court review of the arrests of protesters and journalists during an Occupy Wall Street protest.
We’ve represented journalists and news organizations in several public records and court access cases, and continue to take on more to fight for the free flow of information. We recently won a public records case on behalf of a community newspaper in California. Later this month, RCFP attorneys representing Reporters Committee and Time magazine, will be arguing at the Second Circuit in New York in a lawsuit to unseal records related to the Trump Organization’s employment of undocumented Polish workers in the 1980s.
- We’ve received new grants and funding to allow us add more lawyers and more infrastructure to assist reporters and news organizations. We are grateful to all of our foundation and corporate supporters, and the countless individual contributors who keep our work going. Thank you!