Protecting Journalists Pro Bono Program

The Protecting Journalists Pro Bono Program is a joint collaboration between Microsoft, Davis Wright Tremaine, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Knight Foundation.

Our Program in the News

Overview

The mission is to make pro bono legal services available to journalists and small newsrooms that cannot otherwise afford legal representation. Our program consists of two workstreams: Pre-publication review and access to public records. The pilot has launched in Washington state and selected parts of Northern and Southern California with exceptions nationally for pre-publication review matters. Our Program is managed by the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press (RCFP) thanks to a grant awarded by the Knight Foundation.

We are currently in a pilot phase and receiving matters on a case-by-case basis, working in partnership with three nonprofits: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, First Amendment Coalition, and Washington Coalition for Open Government. Our goal is to support a free and robust press, and we aim to provide support regardless of the point of view of the writer. Before accepting a matter, however, we must ensure we have no conflicts and that the matter falls within the current scope of our program. Consequently, if we decline a matter, it is not necessarily an indication that the matter is not appropriate for legal representation, only that we are unable to assist, due to conflict, timing, resource, or other constraints.

Services
Pre-Publication Review

We review submissions (e.g., articles, podcasts, opinion pieces) identified by the writer as potentially high risk, either because of the subject matter or the parties named, and provide legal guidance for the journalist to consider.

We seek to support journalists in creating a clearly written request for identifiable documents within a government agency's possession, custody, or control, ensure that it's done in a manner that is compliant with existing laws, and provide legal support to the extent possible in pursuing the request thereafter.

Often journalists are subpoenaed to testify in litigation where they are not a party, but a topic about which they have previously published content is relevant to the litigation. Where the journalists have been subpoenaed, we seek to defend their right to protect their confidential sources and materials gathered in the course of creating and publishing their work.

Requests for Assistance

If you wish to request assistance under this program, we encourage you to contact one of our nonprofit partners shown below or fill out this form


Partner News Organizations

Contact Us

Please email us at ffuentes@rcfp.org with any general questions or comments. We'll do our best to respond as soon as possible. Please note that we cannot accept requests for legal representation through this email.