Hearst Waging Most First Amendment Suits Ever

Redacted Documents

Bigger newsrooms are not backing down on pursuing First Amendment and FOIA-related litigation, despite their disappearing budgets and non-existent profit margins.

But they are absorbing some of the high litigation costs by doing more work in-house, rather than hiring outside litigators. They are also targeting litigation in states and at the federal level where statutes allow the recouping of legal fees in successful action.

The New York Times’ Tim Arango hasĀ  a full report, focusing on the ramped-up litigation activity of Hearst and the AP.

“I think we’d be the only media company that would say that we’re at an all-time high with the number of access cases we’re bringing,” Eve Burton, vice president and general counsel at Hearst, told the New York Times. She also cited the preventative power such suits can have as a reason to act so aggressively: “[T]he more access work we do, the less libel suits we have.”

Hearst is currently involved in 18 FOIA-related cases.

The article also addresses the increased aggressiveness of news organisations during the Obama administration, which promised more transparency than existed during the rather opaque Bush years.

Read Arrango’s full report, which discusses a death penalty-related case Hearst is pursuing on behalf of its Houston Chronicle, here.

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