The First Amendment Coalition has teamed up with leading associations of ethnic news media, both in California and nationally, to provide their members free legal consultations on questions about their rights as journalists.
The associations are California Black Media (CBM) and New America Media (NAM). CBM is a statewide information and education network for some 40 African-American media outlets across the state. NAM, founded in 1996, is the country’s largest advocate for ethnic media.
FAC and its partners are collaborating to bring FAC’s Legal Hotline to the many journalists working at CBM and NAM member news outlets. FAC recently entered into a similar relationship with the Online Media Association (ONA), the national association of digital journalists based in Washington, DC.
FAC’s Legal Hotline service, staffed by media lawyers, provides one-on-one consultations over the internet. FAC will make the Legal Hotline available on a priority basis for NAM and CBM members–hundreds of journalists around the country—to give them expert guidance and support in reporting on government.
The Legal Hotline handles questions about freedom of speech, access to government records, attending court proceedings or meetings of government agencies, and many more matters involving journalists and their legal tools and rights.
Examples . . . Suppose you need to examine documents for a story, but you have been denied access. An agency has said no to your public record request, or a judge has placed the documents “under seal.” What are your options?
Or suppose you encounter police making an arrest on a public street. Can police legally stop you from using your smartphone to tape the arrest? From posting that tape on a website or blog? And if you receive a subpoena about the incident, what should you do?
FAC’s Legal Hotline has answers. Go to the Legal Hotline page on FAC’s website and submit your question. You’ll get a reply by email from one of FAC’s lawyers at Bryan Cave, a national law firm hired by FAC for the Hotline service. To see recent Legal Hotline answers, check out “Asked and Answered,” a searchable archive on FAC’s website.
Best of all, the Legal Hotline is a FREE service, paid for by FAC’s contributors. And it is available to anyone, not just journalists.
FAC welcomes the opportunity to assist the diverse communities of journalists associated with our new partners, CBM and NAM.
“These relationships provide powerful tools to strengthen the important work done by CBM and NAM,” commented Dick Rogers, long-time member of FAC’s Board of Directors. “At the same time, they help achieve the Coalition’s goal of making government more open and accountable to everyone. It’s a classic win-win.”