The next time you need a legal primer or have a question about your legal rights — access to private property, juvenile justice or taping phone calls –be sure to check out the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
This non-profit has been helping journalists for more than 40 years and runs a 24-hour hotline. It’s also the group that represents journalists’ view on legislation before Congress and writes briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court on media law cases.
If you go there and skim the material, you’ll find it’s like going back to your college media law course! To get you started, here are five sections of the site I recommend:
- The Reporters’ Field Guide with information about your rights to gather news at crime scenes, prisons, stadiums, etc.
- Access to Police Records including information for each state;
- Open Government Guide giving rules in each state for open meeting and FOI laws, including exceptions when public bodies can meet behind closed doors and exemptions to the public records law. See also the similar Federal Government Guide;
- Access to Electronic Communications encompassing what emails you can get from government officials
- Can We Tape? which covers rules about taping phone calls and more.
Feel free to leave a comment about other online resources that you couldn’t live without.