The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said Tuesday that it is launching a program to provide free legal advice to journalists and news organizations in Pennsylvania and four other states to assist in the pursuit of enterprise and investigative stories.
The program to employ a lawyer in each state is supported by a $10 million investment that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced last year as part of a pledge to double its commitment to strengthening local journalism.
The other states in the program are Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Tennessee.
“We are eager to expand our legal services to help more local journalists pursue stories that inform and strengthen their communities,” Bruce Brown, executive director of the committee, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to working closely with our partners in each of these states to support thriving local journalism.”
Under the program, the lawyer in each state will help defend local media outlets against legal threats and lawsuits, assist with public-records and court-access efforts, and provide pre-publication review and other legal services.
The committee said Pennsylvania was chosen in part because it is a large and diverse state and is home to a number of collaborations, innovative journalistic endeavors, and strong investigative reporting, including Spotlight PA, an investigative newsroom led by The Inquirer in partnership with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and PennLive/Harrisburg Patriot-News.