Journalists Committee to provide legal assistance to BenitoLink


The program is offered to small nonprofit newsrooms across the United States

the Committee of Journalists for Freedom of the Press provided pro bono legal services to BenitoLink. Small, nonprofit newsrooms across the country will benefit greatly from this offer. Many newsrooms without the financial backing that corporations or large corporations have can be wiped out in a single lawsuit. For example, at BenitoLink we have an insurance deductible of $ 10,000 to cover the cost if and when we were to have a lawsuit. This deductible must be paid if the case is frivolous or legitimate. It’s easy to deduce why small newsrooms have ultimately chosen to avoid confrontation when the cost of defense can be so high.

The Reporters Committee press release that reached BenitoLink with the offer of legal aid explained: “The Reporters Committee regularly files friend of the court briefs and his lawyers represent journalists and pro bono media outlets in court cases involving First Amendment freedoms, journalists’ information collection rights and access to public information.

BenitoLink has been assigned to Flavie Fuentes by the Journalists’ Committee for Press Freedom for pro bono legal advice and assistance. Photo provided.

BenitoLink was contacted by Flavie Fuentes at the end of October and the arrangement was finalized in November.

The press release announcing her hiring provided details of Fuentes’ background: “Fuentes joins the Thomson Reuters Foundation Journalists Committee, where she oversaw the global pro bono department, TrustLaw, in North America and the Caribbean. For three years, she managed the main activities of the service, focused on the foundation’s media freedom activities and worked with key international actors such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, Defense of the Media and UNESCO.

Regarding the task ahead, Fuentes said: “As a trained human rights lawyer, the vital importance of a free press as one of the pillars of democratic societies has always been fully evident. for me, ”Fuentes said. “Creating this program, at the crossroads of the nonprofit, private and legal sectors, is both an exceptional challenge and an exciting promise for press freedom in the United States. I hope this new initiative will help raise legal awareness among journalists and editorial staff. , support them in their legal needs and strengthen media freedom in general, ”said Fuentes.

The Committee of Journalists is available to coach journalists on how to file a public registration request, also known as an Access to Information Request (FOIA) with more success. If registrants do not complete their application correctly, publicly funded agencies may avoid providing all the information. For example, elected officials use different communication systems such as SMS, telephone or email. By not including all systems in the FOIA request, registrants may not get all of the internal communications they seek.

Reporters Committee provides support to small, nonprofit newsrooms like BenitoLink.  Image provided.
Reporters Committee provides support to small, nonprofit newsrooms like BenitoLink. Image provided.

The Journalists Committee will also review BenitoLink’s investigative articles prior to publication, which will help us ensure that we have done a thorough and thorough job as journalists. BenitoLink Executive Director Leslie David said: “BenitoLink intends to continue helping young people to familiarize themselves with the profession. This type of assistance is therefore very valuable educationally and we can protect the trust that we have developed with our readers.

Pro Bono Program for the Protection of Journalists was launched in 2020 by Microsoft and the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine in the states of California and Washington.

“This program makes pro bono legal services available to journalists and not-for-profit newsrooms who cannot otherwise afford legal representation. This new program will be an important addition and extension to legal rights projects already underway, including those of the Reporters Committee, which for decades served American journalists and helped organize previous legal needs surveys, ”said Jonathan Keeling of the Institute for Nonprofit News. (INN), an organization that has supported BenitoLink and other nonprofit newsrooms.

INN is funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. BenitoLink has secured its initial seed funding of $ 50,000 for three years from the Knight Foundation. The BenitoLink team is grateful for the continued support of the Knight Foundation and INN, as our nonprofit newsroom prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2022. The Pro Bono Journalist Protection Program is a Another example of the tremendous efforts these organizations are making to help small nonprofit (public service) newsrooms like BenitoLink flourish. INN and the Knight Foundation are also foundations that support “NewsMatch,” which will donate $ 13,000 this year to BenitoLink’s Pledge of Champions campaign in the fall.


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