When a journalist calls for help on legal issues such as public meetings or access to public records, Amanda Martin answers the phone.
Martin, the counsel for the N.C. Press Association, wears several hats for the professional organization. But the largest demand is for advice sought by reporters and editors who call its hotline. Open government issues are their leading concern, but there is much more.
“The overwhelming majority has been government questions, but we do have questions from time to time on advertising,” she said. “Sometimes we get libel questions. We don’t do prepublication review, but we can answer questions through the hotline.”
Other questions can lead to quick lessons on the law, such as how a no-contest plea works or how a lawsuit moves through court. If it’s a question about something outside of her field — bankruptcy law is one she mentioned — Martin still can help.
“We help get the reporter connected to another lawyer who can answer the questions,” she says.