Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Knight Foundation, Columbia launch $60M initiative to help journalists fight for open records

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Columbia University today announced the formation of the $60 million Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia. A Knight press release says one of the main goals is to help financially challenged newspapers fight for freedom of information by providing funds for legal work. The foundation and the university will contribute $5 million each in operating funds and $25 million each in endowment funds, which should generate about $1 million a year.

"A recent Knight Foundation poll of leading newsroom editors revealed that they believe the news industry is less able to pursue legal cases around free speech and freedom of the press issues than it was 10 years ago, with most also agreeing that First Amendment law has not kept pace with new digital-age demands," the release noted.

Jennifer Preston, Knight’s vice president for journalism, said “Digital journalism has created exciting, unprecedented opportunities for how we report and receive the news. Today’s reporters and news outlets have access to innovative platforms, fresh perspectives and a level of immediacy like never before. But it is also creating First Amendment challenges. Without sustained advocacy dedicated to defending uninhibited expression and a free press, we are at risk of experiencing a steady erosion of these bedrock freedoms. This is a precarious moment for the First Amendment, and with this Institute we hope to establish a primary, permanent, influential advocate of free expression.” (Read more)

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