RCFP to Fund Legal Assistance
Oklahoma news organizations
selected to receive legal support
from national group
Oklahoma is one of five states selected by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to
receive pro bono legal support to assist news organizations in pursuing public records and access to public meetings and in defending against legal actions.
The Reporters Committee announced Tuesday that it had chosen Oklahoma, Colorado, Oregon,
Pennsylvania and Tennessee as the initial sites of its Local Legal Initiative, which is being funded primarily through a $10 million investment by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its pledge to double its commitment to strengthening
local journalism. The program will expand to other states, and additional funding will be sought.
The Reporters Committee, based in Washington, D.C., will hire an attorney in each state to work with participating news organizations to bolster
their efforts to obtain public records, gain access to hearings and meetings, and defend against legal threats and lawsuits. Each lawyer will also offer pre-publication reviews of content, which is common in journalism for assessing legal exposure,
as well as other services.
DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE
(Credit to Newspaper Required)
Below are a few editorials you may publish if you give credit to the originating newspaper with a byline. Please email us if you publish an original editorial that you want to share with other Oklahoma newspapers for publication.
OPA: Full Statement
The Local Legal Initiative is revolutionary because it will help restore the rights of citizens who want access to records kept by their government, and provide the financial backing to challenge bureaucracy and violations of Oklahoma's transparency laws
These are the same challenges the Founding Fathers wrote about when they penned the Declaration of Independence.
They declared that government should be accountable to the people they intend to govern. That can only happen by having a transparent government and public officials that believe in transparency.
It is also right and fair to commend the public
servants, past and present, who believe and have tirelessly worked to have transparency at all levels of government. For thoe who do not, the Local Legal Initiative will be a "Shot Heard 'Round Oklahoma'" and help Oklahoma become one of the most transparent
states in the nation.
-- Mark Thomas
Executive Vice President
NAJA: Full Statement
NAJA is proud to join our partner organizations in fostering essential legal counsel for Oklahoma journalists through support from the RCFP Local Legal Initiative.
Along with state affairs, we believe this will create the opportunity for non-Indigenous journalists to improve their coverage of Indigenous communities, particularly when reporting on tribal law.
Through the initiative, RCFP will provide
legal representation for Indigenous journalists, including guidance on tribal law coverage, assistance with open meetings and open records and consultation on editorial independence from tribal governments.
These aspirations are in line with
NAJA’s mission to encourage both mainstream and tribal media to attain the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and responsibility.
“NAJA is proud to join our partner organizations in providing legal representation for Indigenous journalists
in Oklahoma by supporting the RCFP Local Legal Initiative. We believe the opportunity will encourage both mainstream and tribal media practitioners to attain the highest standards of professionalism and improve coverage of Indigenous communities,”
NAJA President Tristan Ahtone said.