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First Amendment Research Information

Freedom of the Press

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Reporter's Privilege/Confidential Sources
Reporters have the privilege of not having to reveal unpublished information. This chapter introduces several pieces of legislation, such as the Illinois Reporter’s Privilege Act, which cover this topic. These acts explain who is protected from disclosing information (who is a “reporter”) and what kind of information may be confidential (who and what qualify as a “source”).

Access to Courts and Documents/Gag Orders
The public’s right of access to courts and documents has been tested countless times in the past. Various Supreme Court Cases have given reporters and other members of the public somewhat more leeway throughout the years, and this chapter of the CFAC First Amendment Handbook explains the types of material and trials that are accessible and how to gain access to them. Some documents of interest in this chapter are police logs and reports, warrants, wiretap applications and orders, grand jury information, criminal charges, pretrial hearings, plea agreements and negotiations, trial evidence and criminal records.

Prior Restraint
The courts define prior restraint as a “predetermined judicial prohibition restraining specific expression,” and the issue of prior restraint has been present in many widely publicized cases. This chapter explains how prior restraints have been successfully challenged, describes the various forms of a prior restraint, and details the situations in which prior restrain may be either justified or invalidated.

America's Free Press: Now More Than Ever
This fourth in a series of essays on the First Amendment, called The Cornerstone Papers, examines press freedoms in post-September 11th America. These essays are published by The Media Institute as part of their Cornerstone Project. The Cornerstone Project is a public awareness and education program designed to give the American public a renewed appreciation of freedom of speech and of the press.

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) is a great news source on press freedom issues. In the last two decades the Committee has played a role in many significant press freedom cases in the Supreme Court and federal and state courts. Visit the web site of this organization and type "Illinois" into its search engine to read dozens of current and past news articles on press freedoms in Illinois. Or, just browse the web site to educate yourself on issues throughout the nation.

The First Amendment and the Media
This annual publication by the Media Institute reports on many of the most important First Amendment freedoms pertaining to the media. It covers the areas of press restrictions, online issues, broadcasting and cable television, commercial speech, and more.

Please use the links below to read the current and previous issues of The First Amendment and the Media.

2003 issue | 2002 issue | 2001 issue | 1999 issue

Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law
Located within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, the Silha Center is the vanguard of the School's interest in the ethical responsibilities and legal rights of the mass media in a democratic society. The Center also serves as a resource for journalists, scholars, and other community members with questions about ethical and legal issues involving the media. Its web site provides a vast network of online resource in the areas of media law, media ethics, and publications on these issues.

Writer's Rights: 1,229 Quotations on the First Amendment
This is a compilation of useful quotations on the First Amendment, as said by many famous scholars and statesmen throughout history.

History of Press Freedom
This article details the development of press rights in America from colonial times, citing specific legislation, court rulings, and incidents.