The Right to Know

The right to know:

A Guide to Public Access and Media Law, Second Edition

The second edition of The Right to Know: A Guide to Public Access and Media Law is now available online and as a digital download. Completed in 2021, it is the work of attorneys who are experts in their fields and features hyperlinks to cases, statutes, and other key resources.

Originally published in 2007, The Right to Know is the authoritative guide on open government and media law for California, with in-depth chapters on accessing public records and meetings, and on core First Amendment topics affecting newsgathering and publishing, such as prior restraints, shielding confidential news sources, and the rights of student journalists. It includes sample letters for requesting records from state and federal governments, including from California law enforcement agencies subject to new disclosure laws.

A one-time purchase for $30 provides a user with access to the web-based book and the ability to download it in a PDF format, which facilitates ease of searching and the ability to copy and paste text, such as a collection of updated public records request letters.

The guide is jointly published by the California News Publishers Association and the First Amendment Coalition. Proceeds from sales are shared by the organizations.

Sales and customers service questions can be directed to CNPA at (916) 288-6012 or via e-mail at

The Right to Know: A Guide to Public Access and Media Law
A one-time purchase of $30 provides unlimited online access plus access to a digital download (PDF).

The right to know

Preview the guide

The Right to Know is an essential resource for: newsrooms and any individual reporter, editor or publisher; media and First Amendment lawyers; journalism and legal educators; government officials and their legal counsel; and anyone else interested in accessing public records, understanding their rights to engage in government meetings, or exercising their rights to publish information.


The e-book is $30. A one-time purchase provides an individual user with (1) unlimited online access to the full contents of the guide on up to three connected devices per day and (2) the ability to download an unlimited number of PDFs of the guide for use offline. 


technical information

The e-book features hyperlinks to statutes, cases and other resources. The web version is compatible with desktop and mobile devices and features a hyperlinked table of contents. The PDF download allows universal key-word search and the ability to copy and paste text, such as the sample letters included in the appendix. The downloadable PDF is 64 MB.

Print copies

While the second edition of The Right to Know is not available for purchase in print, users are encouraged to print copies for their own use in accordance with U.S. copyright laws. To print the complete book, log in to your account, download the PDF and print as you would any PDF.

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This book is written and edited by attorneys who are experts in California and federal open-government laws and procedures, press-freedom protections, student press rights, and areas of the First Amendment affecting newsgathering and censorship. In addition to the contributions of FAC and CNPA staff attorneys, leading California media law and open-government attorneys at numerous law firms donated their time to make this new edition possible. We are grateful for their deep expertise, broad range of experiences and dedication to empowering the press and public to exercise their rights. A complete listing of authors and editor biographies can be found here.

The first edition of The Right to Know, published in 2007, was authored by James M. Chadwick and Roger R. Myers, whose work provided the foundation of the 2021 update.