Committee to Protect Journalists and First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund Announce Legal Support to Defend Fearless Journalism

International Center for Journalists and Reporters Without Borders Join Fundraising Campaign with Leading Organizations Fighting for Global Press Freedom

New York, December 18, 2018 — The Committee to Protect Journalists and First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund today announced they are partnering on a fundraising campaign to provide legal support for journalists facing extensive legal battles meant to suppress critical journalism. The International Center for Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have also pledged their support.

The project currently has $100,000 pledged and aims to raise a total of $500,000 to cover legal fees for news organizations unfairly targeted by governments or powerful figures because they have tried to bring to light information that is in the public interest.

“Journalism is under assault globally and we must do everything we can to ensure the free flow of information,” said Jim Risen, Director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund. “Legal battles are one of several tactics used to silence journalists. We’re thrilled to partner with these leading organizations to support journalists, their sources and other threatened actors who are providing a vital public service.”

The first recipients of this newly created campaign will be Rappler, the Philippine-based news organization, and its founder and editor, renowned journalist Maria Ressa. Created in 2012, Rappler has recently come under increased scrutiny by the Philippine government, and prosecutors have filed five separate tax cases against Rappler Holdings and Maria Ressa. Two other criminal complaints, including libel, are pending in the justice department against Ressa and Rappler’s Board members. Ressa has been a respected journalist in Asia for more than 30 years and was recently recognized with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award at the 2018 International Press Freedom Awards. She is also one of the journalists featured in TIME Magazine’s iconic 2018 Person of the Year issue.

“Rappler has been a leading source of independent information and an inspiration to journalists around the world who continue to report in the face of repression.” said Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, “We intend to stand with Maria Ressa and Rappler and to support them in their efforts to defend themselves against the prosecution that we view as unjust.”

Those interested in helping to support the legal fund can make donations through the Press Freedom Defense Fund website

To date, the Press Freedom Defense Fund has provided grants to defend a variety of local and international cases including supporting the legal cases of U.S. Army intelligence analyst turned whistleblower Chelsea Manning, whose sentence was ultimately commuted by former President Obama; Reality Winner, the NSA contract employee who was arrested and unreasonably prosecuted for a violation of the Espionage Act; Jihan Hafiz, an award-winning documentarian, who was arrested while covering the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline; and the Nigerian news publication “Sahara Reporters,” which was charged with defamation after publishing an investigative piece profiling corruption and misuse of government funds.

About the Press Freedom Defense Fund

The Press Freedom Defense Fund is part of First Look Media, the media company founded by Pierre Omidyar. The PFDF provides essential legal support for journalists, news organizations, and whistleblowers who are targeted by powerful figures because they have tried to bring to light information that is in the public interest and necessary for a functioning democracy.

About CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.

About ICFJ

ICFJ empowers journalists to deliver trustworthy news essential for vibrant societies. Working at the nexus of journalism and technology, we build the expertise and storytelling skills of reporters worldwide. We promote high-impact journalism that leads to better lives.

About Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontières (RSF) defends journalists and freedom of information across the globe, thanks to a local network of journalists in 130 countries, 13 offices worldwide, and consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO.


For more information contact:

Press Freedom Defense Fund

Jeannie Kedas

Chief Communications Officer

First Look Media

[email protected]

Tel: +1 (347) 709-3561


Kimu Elolia

Communications Associate

First Look Media

[email protected]

Committee to Protect Journalists

Kerry Paterson

Advocacy and Communications Manager

[email protected]

Tel: +1 (212) 300-9031