Format: 2018-03-18
Format: 2018-03-18
March 13, 2018
This post originally appeared on the Association of Health Care Journalists’s “Covering Health” blog here. In honor of Sunshine Week, AHCJ invited organizations devoted to government transparency to write about how their work can help health care reporters.   Sunshine Week may be just one week out of the year, but the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press works every day to protect the right to public information. We have seen firsthand the important role that public information plays in producing more complete and accurate reporting on issues that deeply affect our communities — how taxpayer dollars are spent, if elected officials are acting in the best interests of those they serve, and whether those in government are abusing the power they hold.  
February 21, 2018
The Reporters Committee and a coalition of nine media organizations are asking a North Carolina appeals court to overturn an unprecedented lower court ruling that allowed nearly all court records in a civil case to be filed completely under seal. The docket, names of both parties and their lawyers, and sealing orders are all secret in the case, Doe v. Doe, essentially concealing its very existence.   The Fayetteville Observer brought a lawsuit to unseal the records after it discovered the case involved a prominent local businessman who had reached settlements with multiple minors over allegations of sexual abuse.  
February 20, 2018
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging a Connecticut judge to unseal two court records related to the sentencing of a man convicted of sex trafficking a minor and possessing heroin with intent to distribute.   In the case, United States v. Gomez, the Reporters Committee is representing Connecticut newspaper The Day, which intervened in the case to unseal the sentencing memoranda for Ramon Gomez. Gomez received an eight-year sentence in federal prison with five years of supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.   
February 14, 2018
A Nevada court’s ruling that the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Associated Press must destroy and stop reporting on an autopsy report that another judge declared a public record just a week before is an unconstitutional restraint on the news outlets’ First Amendment right to publish.   On Feb. 9, a trial court judge ordered the two news outlets to forfeit one of 58 anonymized autopsy reports for people killed in the Oct. 1 Las Vegas mass shooting. The order came after the widow of an off-duty police officer who was killed in the shooting filed a lawsuit claiming the release of her husband’s autopsy report violated her privacy rights. The week prior, the Review-Journal and Associated Press successfully sued the county coroner’s office for access to anonymized versions of the 58 reports, including the officer’s.   
January 24, 2018
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a lawsuit against United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over the agencies’ failure to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records relating to a summons the agencies issued to Twitter in March.   This past April, CBP sought to unmask the authors of an anonymous Twitter account publishing viewpoints that are critical of President Trump’s immigration policies using the handle @ALT_uscis.  According to a lawsuit filed by Twitter, a CBP agent sent Twitter a summons by fax on March 14, 2017, ordering the company to provide certain records relating to the @ALT_uscis account, including user names, account login, phone numbers, and mailing and IP addresses.  
January 19, 2018
Lawyers for journalist Aaron Cantú filed a motion Friday to dismiss charges stemming from his arrest while covering the Inauguration Day protests on Jan. 20, 2017.   Cantú, who now works for the Santa Fe Reporter, was covering the protests in Washington, D.C., as a freelance journalist. He was one of several protesters, journalists and others who were penned in by police for hours before many of them were arrested.   The motion argued that the indictment violates Cantú’s First Amendment rights as a journalist and that the District of Columbia’s riot laws are unconstitutionally vague as applied in this case.  
January 9, 2018
Stronger anti-SLAPP laws protect press freedom from frivolous but costly legal threats   President Donald Trump’s legal threats against the publisher and author of the most recent insider account of the White House may strike a nerve with journalists who are fearful of expensive legal defenses and chill valuable news reporting, but the threats could lose much of their power if states or Congress strengthened a tool that judges may use to dismiss meritless lawsuits involving speech protected under the First Amendment.   
December 15, 2017
The “right to be forgotten” remains fresh in the minds of free press advocates as the European Union’s top court considers whether an order from the French data privacy authority requiring Google to delete certain links from search results should be applied worldwide.   On Nov. 30, the Reporters Committee filed a written statement on behalf of a coalition of 24 news media organizations urging the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to hold that a search engine is not required to delete search result links globally when a request for “delisting” has been granted by a European data protection authority.    
December 6, 2017
Global concerns about the spread of misinformation online have increased following reports that the Russian government fabricated news stories to interfere with the United States presidential election.   This concern has led to numerous efforts to stop the threat of false information online. However, some of these new measures—including landmark legislation in Germany to criminalize fraudulent news on social media—threaten to infringe on free speech online.   This June, Germany passed legislation to combat fake news and hate speech on social media. The Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG), or the “Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks” in English, took effect on October 1, 2017.  
November 28, 2017
Every year, on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, nonprofits and charities celebrate Giving Tuesday, the global day of giving back. And today, we’re asking you to join our Giving Tuesday campaign to raise $20,000 for our mission to provide pro bono legal representation, amicus curiae support, and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and the newsgathering rights of journalists. And we’re excited to share that if you make a gift today, Cristine Russell and Ben Heineman, long-time Reporters Committee supporters, will match every dollar. What will my gift support?   This year we’ve worked hard to protect press freedom so that reporters can bring you the news and information you need. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to:
October 23, 2017
Four states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee — have recently passed legislation restricting the rights of protesters, as part of a sweeping trend that has seen more than half the states consider implementing such restrictions. The laws range from increasing penalties for trespassing and rioting to even prohibiting protests in certain circumstances.   The new legislation not only penalizes citizens seeking to peacefully protest, but also threatens to interfere with journalists who cover and report on protests.  
October 11, 2017
Today, several prominent press freedom groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Free Press, Media Law Resource Center, PEN America and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press issued the following statement today expressing concern with President Trump’s taunt to broadcasters.     "When coming from the leader of the free world, words matter. And if the First Amendment means anything, it’s that the government can’t censor news because it’s critical of the government. The president should be working to uphold the values of the First Amendment, not tearing them down."  
September 20, 2017
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of 18 media organizations submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit urging it to unseal court records in the case of Guiffre v. Maxwell.    The brief argues that the district court violated the public’s First Amendment right to access court records when it allowed a vast number of records in the case to routinely be filed under seal or redacted in their entirety without first undergoing review to determine if there was a compelling reason to keep the information private.   
September 19, 2017
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has promoted one and added five new members to its team to expand our work to protect First Amendment freedoms, defend the newsgathering rights of journalists, and improve access to public information.  
September 8, 2017
Laws designed to protect the student press from censorship by school officials are gaining traction around the country, and the American Bar Association recently lent its support to the cause with a unanimous resolution. Rhode Island passed a new law on July 18 that protects the free expression rights of student journalists, becoming the third state to do so this year after similar laws passed in Nevada and Vermont, and the thirteenth state overall to enact statutory protection for student journalism.