ASNE lands $80K grant to advance First Amendment

By Casey Smith, Ball State University
Support for the ASNE Legal Hotline, which provides journalists with a variety of legal resources, is slated to expand as a result of an $80,000 grant from the Charles Koch Foundation. The announcement was made during the 2017 News Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

The ASNE Legal Hotline launched in 2015 and is a benefit of ASNE membership. The hotline helps journalists across the country navigate and better understand the First Amendment and their legal rights as press. Kevin Goldberg, a media attorney and Freedom of Information Act expert, oversees the legal hotline service and answers questions on numerous legal topics, including those related to FOIA and copyright infringement. Questions and answers are posted online for others to benefit from, as well.

“I’m very excited to be able to expand our outreach to editors and their staff around the country,” Kevin Goldberg, legal counsel for ASNE, said in an Oct. 9 press release. “It’s no secret that news organizations are facing an increasingly hostile legal climate and that many do not have the available resources needed to protect and promote their legal rights. My goal is to put ASNE members in a position where they can create systematic procedures to avoid legal problems, better differentiate between true threats and frivolous attempts to bully, and proactively assert their right to information. I’m especially grateful to the Charles Koch Institute for making this happen. It’s an organization I’ve been lucky to work with recently, and I truly appreciate their dedication to free speech and open government.”

With support from the grant, other membership benefits are also expected to expand.

ASNE will host a new educational series of online webinars, which will offer advice on important aspects of media law, First Amendment rights, laws protecting press freedom and freedom of information. The new webinars are expected to start later this year and take place on a quarterly basis. Both ASNE members and the general public will be invited to attend.

A new series of regional workshops also will be developed, targeting state press associations and focusing on open government.

“We’re excited to partner with ASNE,” Charles Koch Foundation Director of Free Expression Sarah Ruger, said the press release. “We share the belief a free press is critical to society’s ability to openly disseminate ideas. ASNE is bolstering those rights with the resources needed to act on them.”

The foundation supports other grantees committed to press freedom, including The Poynter Institute, the Newseum and Techdirt’s free speech initiative.

For more information on the Legal Hotline and upcoming workshops and webinars, visit

Casey Smith is a senior at Ball State University. She graduates in May 2018. Her email is


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