Press Freedom

Defending Our Right to Get the Whole Story

Americans count on a free press to provide answers and reveal truths that those in power would rather obscure. The Press Freedom strategy works to ensure that journalists of all kinds are free to pursue facts of public interest and tell the whole story — and that newsrooms are equipped to defend against attacks and restrictions on reporting. 

Building New Legal Protections

First Amendment protections serve all Americans. A free and bold press informs us on current issues, fosters community connections, and keeps a critical eye on those in power — at both the local and national levels. To do the job, journalists need resources, access, and confidence that this Constitutional right will be upheld.

But today, journalists are shut out of public forums and arrested while covering protests. Political attacks undermine journalistic rights and credibility. And powerful interests launch lawsuits designed to bankrupt newsrooms, and silence sources and stories. Few local newsrooms have sufficient access to legal support. Many struggle to afford insurance against libel and defamation suits, and they have no rainy day fund for  major court battles. This environment incentivizes self-censorship and threatens vital coverage.

The Press Freedom strategy seeks to address immediate threats now and rebuild a culture and infrastructure for press freedom in America that meets the demands of our changing media. We foster collaboration and mobilize resources to:

  • Provide direct legal assistance to journalists and newsrooms under threat
  • Grow the network of university-based legal clinics providing pro-bono services to local newsrooms across the country and educating the next generation of press freedom defenders
  • Track the health of press freedom, research the challenges, and identify effective solutions at both the national and local levels
  • Promote public awareness and embrace of press freedoms as a right of every American
  • Provide libel and defamation training to help newsrooms mitigate risks and become more insurable
  • Support citizens in filing Freedom of Information requests to increase transparency and access across the government


Defending Freedom of the Press

The Legal Clinic Fund is a resource for legal clinics across the United States that advance and protect First Amendment rights, media freedom, and transparency in their communities and nationally. The Fund provides grants that help university legal clinics grow, collaborate, and build their capacity in order to create a new legal backbone across the U.S. to support and defend the First Amendment. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all newsrooms and journalists who seek legal resources and need defense can find these vital protections — especially those least likely to receive legal support from traditional sources.

Protect First Amendments rights and independent journalism.

Explore Our Other Public Square Strategies

Public Square strategies support trustworthy local news, press freedom, community engagement in news, investigative journalism, and digital media that advance democracy, not hate.

Learn more about our Public Square Program

Digital Democracy

With the rise of social media platforms, online spaces have a growing influence on American life. But left unchecked, these sites can distort reality, channel discrimination, and undermine elections. Our Digital Democracy strategy seeks to shift the dynamics of online platforms to support civic participation and safeguard civil rights.

Learn more about this effort

Ecosystem News

Trusted and responsible local news and information increases civic engagement, community cohesion, and government accountability — but over the past two decades, many American communities have lost their hometown sources. The Ecosystem News strategy aims to transform local news so everyone has access to information they need to participate in our democracy and live a healthy life.

Learn more about this effort

Engaged Journalism

Americans need news that fully reflects their communities and responds to their interests to help them participate meaningfully in democracy, exercise their rights, and inform daily living. Our Engaged Journalism strategy aims to make journalism more inclusive, responsive, and relevant to all Americans.

Learn more about this effort
Special Project

Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalism provides a check and balance on the powerful by shining a spotlight on corruption, conflicts of interest, and decisions that endanger the public. This special project supports the time, deep investment, and protection that this kind of journalism requires.

Learn more about this effort