The initiative is a membership program that seeks to protect investigative reporting organizations and news media around the world from legal threats designed to silence critical voices. It aims to reduce the risk of lawsuits through training, while funding legal aid to fight lawsuits aimed at intimidating and financially burdening journalists and the organizations they work for.
Organized by investigative journalists from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and lawyers from the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, with support and assistance from insurance professionals, Reporters Shield is currently available in the Americas, Europe and Central Asia. . Subsequent phases will expand the network and reach of support to Africa, Asia and Oceania over the coming year.
The program is intended for print and online media, as well as non-governmental organizations reporting for the public interest. It will identify qualified lawyers to respond to legal threats and claims and will pay for legal representation up to a pre-agreed limit. The program will also help members avoid lawsuits by providing training, resources and pre-publication review in high-risk circumstances.
To participate, eligible organizations must meet eligibility criteria and pay an annual fee based on a number of factors, including the location of the outlet and the number of investigative stories published.
Most of the initial investment to launch Reporters Shield came from USAID, which is providing up to $9 million in core funding for the program to support non-US media. Contributions from private donors fund support for US-based media. It is hoped that as the network’s membership grows, the initiative will become a long-term solution in response to the increasing weaponization of legal systems used to target media around the world.
For more information, visit Reporters Shield.