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RCFP will provide pro-bono legal assistance to journalists through MacArthur grant

posted December 9, 2016

WASHINGTON – The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has been awarded a two-year grant totaling $450,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in support of RCFP’s work defending journalists’ legal rights in the face of increased threats to press freedom. The funding will go directly toward offering journalists and media organizations free legal resources to protect their First Amendment rights.

“We are honored to receive this grant from the MacArthur Foundation, and it could not be coming at a more important time given the challenges ahead,” said RCFP Steering Committee Chair David Boardman, adding that “RCFP is committed to upholding the right of all journalists to exercise their constitutional freedoms without fear of reprisal for their reporting.”

The new funding from the MacArthur Foundation will support a broad range of RCFP initiatives, with a particular focus on increasing the organization’s capacity to represent journalists and news organizations in freedom of information and access cases and to assist with pre-publication review, training, and guidance to help reduce legal exposure.

“The MacArthur Foundation is a long-time supporter of nonprofit organizations conducting independent, investigative and accountability reporting. These organizations are facing an increasingly hostile environment in the conduct of their work, including legal intimidation, threats to confidential source relationships, and lawsuits that inhibit access to information,” said Kathy Im, Director of Journalism and Media at MacArthur. “This new grant to the Reporters Committee is part of a broader effort by MacArthur to address the legal, physical and digital security threats faced by reporters and online civic media activists.”

Added RCFP’s executive director Bruce Brown, “This funding will allow RCFP to expand its role in supporting nonprofit news organizations and documentary filmmakers who lack the legal resources to advance their work. We are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for its commitment to press freedom.”

About the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as to the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. www.macfound.org

About the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press was founded by leading journalists and media lawyers in 1970 when the nation’s news media faced an unprecedented wave of government subpoenas forcing reporters to name confidential sources. Today it provides pro bono legal representation, amicus curiae support, and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and the newsgathering rights of journalists. Funded by corporate, foundation and individual contributions, the Reporters Committee serves the nation’s leading news organizations; thousands of reporters, editors, and media lawyers; and many more who use our online and mobile resources. For more information, go to rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.

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