In September, Shannon Jankowski joined the Reporters Committee as the inaugural E.W. Scripps Fellow for Press Freedom, a position dedicated to providing pro bono legal counsel to local news organizations.
Shannon’s interest in supporting local journalists and news outlets stems from growing up in the Midwest and being an avid consumer of local news.
“It’s essential to have a strong and vibrant local media,” the Minnesota native said. “But in the face of legal or resource challenges, local media organizations may be forced to choose their battles. Through this fellowship, I hope to help journalists navigate those constraints, so they can focus on investigating the stories that matter most to their communities.”
Before joining the Reporters Committee, Shannon was an associate attorney at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition to representing clients in defamation, copyright, and trademark litigation, she helped journalists and news organizations obtain access to government and judicial records.
Shannon became interested in pursuing a law degree after working as an in-house paralegal in Minneapolis. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2017, where she served as an articles editor for the Minnesota Law Review, was a special rapporteur at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and argued a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit as a student director in the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic.
Before attending law school, Shannon earned a B.A. in Theater at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and worked for several years as a freelance actress in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. She hopes to apply some of what she learned and the values she embraced in the performing arts to her work in media law.
“The one [fight] that’s always felt like a particular calling for me is making sure that the right to freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression is not silenced,” she said. “The media is the centerpiece of democracy. … If you shut that light off … there is no way for people to get access to the information they need in order to make informed decisions.”