As newspaper circulations drop and nightly news broadcasts garner fewer viewers, more people are getting their news online — a medium not as likely as traditional media to spend the money to sue for access to courts, public records and public meetings, according to a report released last week by CQ Researcher.
According to the "Press Freedom" report, as traditional news sources migrate online and are supplemented by independent journalists or grant-funded nonprofit investigative journalism organizations, finding the resources to fund the inevitable legal battles that occur when reporting the news has become a quandary. This reluctance may threaten citizens’ ability to access information regarding tax dollar use and activities of government officials.
Media outlets are losing ad revenue and still lack a practical way to charge for online content, which diminishes the funding available for opposing reporter subpoenas in court and following up on freedom-of-information requests, the report said.
In addition, the report outlines the ongoing debate about whether independent online journalists, who have proliferated as increasingly beleaguered traditional news organizations lay off reporters, are entitled to press freedom protections at all if they are unfamiliar with the ethical boundaries to which traditional journalists typically adhere.
The full report is available for order here.