The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press updates its one-stop shop for public records law, reporter’s privilege


RCFP published its recent Open Government Guide in January, which includes state-by-state information about how journalists can report on government agencies and proceedings that are open to the public. The free guide describes laws that regulate access to public records and government meetings. The guide is also user-friendly, allowing reporters to click on their state and specific sections differentiated by record types and even compare how the same law is handled in other states. The Reporter’s Privilege Compendium defines state and federal protections against being forced to testify in court about confidential sources.

The guide allows journalists to educate themselves by describing the law in every jurisdiction, Adam Marshall, a staff attorney at RCFP said. It also helps journalists push back when agencies refuse to hand over public records because when journalists know their rights, they know when they can and cannot have access, said Danielle McLean, an investigative reporter for ThinkProgress. 

“There has been a growing hostility toward the media and some distress over that,” McLean said. “As a journalist, one of the best ways to give point-blank evidence that something is true is by showing the physical documents to readers, quoting and citing the physical documents. You can’t obscure that, you can’t deny that. Having those public records tells the stories.”

Read more about how the new guide is better than before here.