Reporters Shield Admits Inaugural Members

January 2024

The legal defense program, launched last year, has welcomed its first cohort of members.

In December and January, Reporters Shield admitted the first group of independent investigative news outlets as official members. As members of Reporters Shield, these news organizations will receive support and services, such as pre-publication review of qualified stories, and will be eligible to receive legal defense and assistance to defend against eligible legal threats and lawsuits. 

To date, Reporters Shield, an initiative of the Vance Center and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), has received dozens of applications from prospective members around the world, indicating a significant need and demand for its work. Reporters Shield staff will continue reviewing applications from outlets and organizations based in Phase 1 countries (North and South America, Central Asia and Europe), and expect to admit more members based in this region in early 2024. 

Reporters Shield, launched in May 2023, is an independent nonprofit organization providing legal defense against defamation and related content-based threats and claims, as well as other benefits, to public interest reporting organizations worldwide, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and private and public foundations.     

Reporters Shield also continues expanding its network of regional coordinators, which support the program with provision of its legal defense benefit, including help identifying qualified lawyers in members’ countries. The current regional coordinators are the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Fundación para la Libertad de PrensaFoundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), Reviewed & Cleared (R&C), the Vance Center’s Lawyers for Reporters program, and the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU).  

PALU, the newest addition to the coordinator network, will work with members in sub-Saharan Africa, which falls under Phase 2 of the application cycle, along with the Middle East/North Africa and the Caribbean.