Reporters Committee by Chris Young
March 9, 2020
In 2019, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced its Local Legal Initiative, an ambitious expansion of its legal services to provide direct, targeted legal support for local enterprise and investigative reporting in five jurisdictions across the country. Made possible by generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Local Legal Initiative, or LLI, expects to add a Reporters Committee attorney in Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee in 2020.
The attorneys we hire in these states will be fully integrated members of the Reporters Committee’s existing legal team. Their presence on the ground in local communities will help our attorneys based in Washington, D.C., target legal issues in those jurisdictions in a systematic way while, at the same time, continuing to represent journalists across the country.
To identify the five local news ecosystems to launch the LLI, the Reporters Committee wanted to hear directly from journalists, news organizations, and other stakeholders around the country about where they see the greatest need for support for local journalism. We put out a request for proposals asking respondents to tell us about the biggest legal challenges reporters face in their communities, as well as how additional legal support would enable them to pursue more local enterprise and investigative stories. We sought collaborative proposals that demonstrated a clear need for pro bono legal services, and included for-profit and nonprofit newsrooms, state press associations, and freedom-of-information organizations.