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National Freedom of Information Coalition to Receive $2 Million From Knight Foundation

Media companies will get some financial help in filing Freedom
of Information Lawsuits, according to the Knight Foundation.  Monday (Jan. 4), the foundation said it is
giving $2 million to the National Freedom of Information Coalition over the
next three years to pay court costs and fees for attorneys willing to take on
pro bono cases that cash-strapped media companies might not otherwise pursue.

"Media companies have for generations taken on the lion's
share of the legal work surrounding freedom of information," Eric Newton,
Knight Foundation VP for Journalism Programs, said in announcing the grant.
"But as media economics restructure, new approaches are needed."

The money will go to not only paying the costs of bringing
FOIA lawsuits, but also provide seed money for challenge grants to help state
coalitions raise even more money, as well as create a Web site to coordinate
FOIA efforts.

Knight pointed to a decline in FOIA advocacy in recent
years, citing a study by the Media
Law Resource Center
that laid much of the blame on the economic crisis.

Knight said that due to the decline in local media pursuing
FOIA requests, the government could be emboldened to deny access to more
information that should be public.