The E.W. Scripps Company and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have partnered to support local enterprise and investigative journalism and increase access to public records to facilitate government transparency.
“Nowhere is the need for legal support in journalism greater than at the local level,” stated Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
The two organizations are creating The E.W. Scripps Fellow for Press Freedom, a legal fellowship program that will bring media-law resources to local news publishers that often lack the resources to request public open records.
“A healthy democracy depends on a high level of government transparency, and yet local journalists often find their pursuit of truth blocked by city hall officials, police departments and other government agencies that deny access to the records the public has a right to see,” stated Scripps president-CEO Adam Symson.
Legal counsel will be provided pro bono, supported by $100,000 of annual funding from Scripps.
The Reporters Committee says it is the only national legal services organization focused on pro bono representation for journalists and news organizations.
It also supports journalists through its legal defense hotline, online guides, and a network of First Amendment and media law clinics that assist local and regional journalists.
The partnership “will help us continue to expand the network of lawyers with the expertise to help news organizations,” Brown stated.
Over the last five years, the Reporters Committee has filed amicus curiae briefs or litigated First Amendment cases in 34 out of 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Scripps has joined most of those briefs.
Scripps owns 52 television stations in 36 markets, as well as digital video network Newsy and podcast company Stitcher, among others.