Knight’s legal, press freedom priorities for 2023 – Knight Foundation

Knight’s legal, press freedom priorities for 2023

Broadening local legal services, enhancing journalist safety and continuing support of the First Amendment

We’ve mentioned in previous issues of the newsletter that Knight is currently examining the best ways to build up infrastructure within the journalism community and produce an ecosystem that is functional, sustainable, diverse, and scalable. That infrastructure should be built on a steady foundation that includes the maintenance and expansion of robust pro bono or low-cost networks of attorneys providing legal services to newsrooms, the vigorous protection of journalist safety and the preservation of the protections of the First Amendment.

For 2023, we’re focusing on building out these three areas. While Knight has supported and currently supports excellent organizations such as the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Committee to Protect Journalists and various First Amendment clinics at prominent universities, Knight is always looking for new voices and new organizations to support.

We’re interested in ideas that fit within the following categories:

Broadening the network of local legal services for journalists

Journalists want to produce content that matters, and a lack of access to legal support and services can negatively impact that goal. When journalists face pushback from officials when filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests or hesitate to publish due to fear of retaliatory defamation claims, their ability to produce quality stories is affected. This year, we’re hoping to learn about innovative ideas on how lawyers can help newsrooms that go beyond FOIA and defamation. We’re particularly interested in what community-based pro bono lawyering can and should look like, new ideas for closing demonstrated legal gaps in newsrooms and insights on how to properly address the legal implications of emerging technologies.

Enhancing journalist safety, domestically and abroad

While Knight’s journalism work is almost entirely centered around local news in the U.S., we make an exception for work that enhances journalist safety. Legal, digital and physical safety threats to journalists abroad can be harbingers for similar press freedom concerns closer to home. As a result, it is vital that they are prioritized alongside domestic safety issues.

In 2023, we’re seeking reactive and proactive ideas to protect journalist safety anywhere in the world, with a particular interest in ways to prevent and mitigate the worst harms before they happen.

Increasing First Amendment support in the newsroom, the courtroom and beyond

One of Knight’s core values is support of the First Amendment, including press freedom and free speech. We are enthusiastic about ideas to best safeguard these rights – whether through trainings to increase legal literacy, supporting those who are directly litigating First Amendment cases or something entirely new.

As with all of these priorities, the specifics are up to you and those in your network. Contact me at [email protected] with questions and/or ideas.

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