ProJourn is an innovative approach to providing journalists — small news organizations, nonprofit newsrooms, documentary filmmakers and freelancers no-cost legal help with prepublication review and public records access. ProJourn offers legal assistance, including free litigation services to help reporters fight stonewalling and hold the government accountable.

Growing out of a pilot created by attorneys at Microsoft and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, ProJourn is set to expand in 2022 to new jurisdictions with new legal and corporate partners. ProJourn is operated by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, longtime leader in journalism and First Amendment philanthropy.

The initiative brings together teams of seasoned media attorneys and corporate in-house counsel to build the bench of legal support and meet the growing needs of local journalists.

Our Program in the News

Read our Report
‌October 3, 2022

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

To request pro bono legal assistance under ProJourn, please fill out this formYou may also contact one of our nonprofit partners shown below. 


Partner News Organizations

Contact Us

Please email us at ffuentes@rcfp.org and cpiaia@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.