A Legal Guide for Digital Journalists

Although it was launched in June, it has taken me this long to get around to checking out the Digital Journalist’s Legal Guide created by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Now that I’ve had the chance to explore it, I have no doubt this will quickly become an essential resource both for established journalists and independent bloggers.

The guide is designed to provide legal guidance to anyone who disseminates news online. It covers key areas of media and access law: access to courts, copyright and trademarkcensorshipInternet regulationinvasion of privacylibelnewsgatheringopen records and meetings, and sources and subpoenas.

The guide is layered in a way that allows a user to get quick answers on a topic and also drill down deeper into it. The front page of each section contains a summary of the applicable legal principles, answers to common questions about the topic, and links to pages that provide more detailed discussions about specific aspects of the topic.

These section front pages also include links to relevant news articles from the RCFP website covering actual court cases and legal stories. Those links are effective at helping to illustrate how these legal principles are applied in real-world situations.

Well before it published this guide, the RCFP’s website was already the preeminent source of legal guidance for journalists. Over the years, RCFP has published an array of legal guides on First Amendment, access, privacy, privilege and other media-law issues.

This new guide takes full advantage of that pre-existing library. Articles in this guide are generously hyperlinked to other resources on the RCFP site.

All of these materials are offered free of charge for anyone to use. That said, you can always show your appreciation and help support the RCFP’s great work by making a donation.