Vance Center Program Featured by NeimanLab

May 2021

Neiman Lab  recently published a feature article on Lawyers for Reporters, the Vance Center’s initiative, in collaboration with the Press Freedom Defense Fund, to provide pro bono legal representation to local journalism in the United States.   “Lawyers for Reporters connects local news outlets with free legal services” highlighted the initiative’s dedication to the sustainability of local journalism in underrepresented communities.

The article described that after just more than a year Lawyers for Reporters has 30 clients and relies on a network of 19 law firms and over 60 lawyers around the United States who work with clients on their specific legal needs. The initiative’s small staff connects the clients with law firms in their states, and then oversees their work together.  The work focuses on nonprofit incorporation and tax exemption, newsroom matters like pre-publication review and freelancer contracting, media insurance, and intellectual property protection.

The article quoted Vance Center Executive Director Alex Papachristou, who co-directs the initiative, as explaining “we have never turned a client away because we didn’t have the capacity to help, which is to say we are still very new and word hasn’t yet spread widely. However, we can handle increased demand. We are growing internally, but we also have the great resource of law firms that join us as need arises, project-by-project, and this multiplies our capacity to dozens and dozens of lawyers across the country.”

The article also identified Lawyers for Reporters clients, including Shasta Scout,  Tiny News Collectivethe Asheville WatchdogQ Voice NewsSanta Cruz Local, and the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism. CCIJ recently co-published “The Central California Town that Keeps Sinking” in collaboration with the New York Times and SJV Water.

Lawyers for Reporters has recently received funding from the Bay & Paul Foundations, which fosters and accelerates initiatives that prepare agents of change working to strengthen our social compact and develop authentic solutions to the challenges of this pivotal century.  Other core funding is pending.

Nieman Lab is an online reporting enterprise of Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation, focused on the future of news and innovation. Nieman Lab has a staff of reporters writing daily about the most significant developments in journalism and has become a leading source of news about digital media for an international audience.