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ProJourn expands to provide Illinois journalists with pro bono legal help

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Operated by RCFP, the program assists journalists with legal vetting, accessing public records, and business needs.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced today that it will expand its ProJourn program to journalists and newsrooms in Illinois. ProJourn currently assists journalists with public records access in California, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington, as well as with pre-publication review and business-related legal needs nationwide.

“We are thrilled to expand ProJourn to Illinois, where there is growing momentum in support of nonprofit newsrooms and independent journalists delivering exceptional investigative reporting,” said ProJourn Director Flavie Fuentes. “As a program that proactively supports newsrooms serving historically marginalized communities, including those whose first language is not English, we look forward to supporting Illinois’ ethnic media and providing crucial legal assistance to all local journalists.”

Among the initial law firms partnering with ProJourn that have offices in Illinois are Akerman and Davis Wright Tremaine.

Since the program was piloted by Microsoft and Davis Wright Tremaine in 2020 and 2021, ProJourn has provided free legal support for more than a hundred local journalists and news organizations, filling a critical, growing need. 

Operated since 2021 by the Reporters Committee, with a generous investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, ProJourn unites law firms and corporate in-house counsel to help with pre-publication review, public records access, and business legal needs — adding capacity to the Reporters Committee’s existing efforts, including the organization’s litigation program and Local Legal Initiative, and the Free Expression Legal Network, a national network of law school clinics.

In 2023, attorneys working with ProJourn logged nearly 2,500 pro bono hours supporting local journalists and newsrooms. In Vallejo, California, for example, ProJourn helped the nonprofit newsroom Open Vallejo obtain public records that paved the way for its groundbreaking local journalism that exposed how city officials intentionally destroyed key evidence related to police shootings.  

“ProJourn has been absolutely transformative to our work,” Open Vallejo Executive Editor Geoffrey King told the Reporters Committee at the time. “It’s important to have powerful allies in the fight for truth.”

Last year, attorneys working with ProJourn also vetted 45 stories before publication, handled 25 public records matters, and led 14 trainings — including several in Spanish — teaching journalists everything from how to access public records to how to mitigate legal risks before publishing.

For more information on ProJourn, visit

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