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Home > Public Policy > First Amendment


The core mission of newspapers is to gather and publish news and information for the local communities they serve. NAA advocates before the executive and legislative branches on First Amendment and open government issues in support of newspapers’ newsgathering activities.

A top priority is the enactment a federal shield law that would enable journalists to protect confidential sources when subpoenaed in criminal and civil cases. While 49 states and the District of Columbia provide some legal protection for journalists and their sources, there is no similar law at the federal level. Such a law would protect the free flow of information and the public’s right to know.

Other issues include, but are not limited to, reform of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and educating policy makers on the importance of publishing public notices in local newspapers, which allows important information to reach citizens, particularly those who do not have access to the Internet.

= NAA Members Only

Media Coalition Testifies in Support of FOIA Reform

February 27, 2015

Sunshine in Government Initiative director Rick Blum urged Congress to quickly enact reforms to strengthen the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Blum testified this morning before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations.

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Tracking the Federal Shield Law

January 15, 2015

A top public policy priority for NAA is enactment of a federal shield law that would enable journalists to protect confidential sources when subpoenaed in criminal and civil cases. In the wake of recent scandals involving the Justice Department’s secret seizure of phone records that swept in communications of more than 100 Associated Press journalists, and the monitoring of Fox News reporter James Rosen’s personal e-mail and cell phone records, this legislation is critical to protecting the free flow of information and the public’s right to know.

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Congress Should Pass FOIA Reform Legislation Before the End of the Year

September 17, 2014

As the September work session winds down, NAA is hopeful that the Senate will turn to S. 2520 during the “lame duck” session in November and that Congress will enact FOIA reform legislation before the 113th Congress ends in December. A similar bill, the FOIA Act (H.R. 1211), already passed the House in February.

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Backgrounder on Upcoming Supreme Court Decision on New York Times Reporter James Risen’s Petition for Certiorari

May 21, 2014

NAA wanted to provide you and your colleagues with notice of a potential decision by the Supreme Court that could impact consideration of federal shield legislation in Congress and whether a reporter would be able to protect a confidential source in federal court.

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NAA opposes moving public notices out of local newspapers

July 18, 2011

Last week, NAA joined the National Newspaper Association and the American Court and Commercial Newspapers in submitting comments to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice opposing proposed changes to their public notice rules. Both agencies would allow for the publication of public notices, related to changes in Medicaid benefits and to forfeitures by law enforcement agencies, only on government websites.

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President signs libel tourism bill

August 18, 2010

On Aug. 10, President Obama signed a bill that will help American victims of libel tourism. Foreign plaintiffs are often called “libel tourists” when they sue American writers or publishers in foreign courts for defamation because those jurisdictions – such as England – have very plaintiff-friendly libel laws. The suits proceed even though the foreign plaintiff and the American defendant have little to no ties to the foreign jurisdiction. 

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