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Journalists in jail. Record-setting libel verdicts. Secret government documents. Closed-door meetings. The lawyers who represent the news media have had their hands full. But one item of good news for media lawyers is that several Web sites offer useful resources and support. One of the most useful is The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free legal assistance to journalists. It includes a selection of comprehensive guides to key areas of media law. These detailed, state-by-state legal guides describe the laws covering open meetings and open records, reporters’ shields and subpoenas, and tape recording phone calls. Other RCFP legal guides focus on the First Amendment, the federal Freedom of Information Act, medical privacy under HIPAA, and access to court records. RCFP provides these resources for free, along with daily updates on media law news from throughout the United States. Another top-notch media law site is the First Amendment Center, a program of the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to supporting free press and free speech. It offers in-depth coverage of key First Amendment issues and daily news, a library and guest analyses. Coverage extends to a broad range of First Amendment issues, but follow the Press link to zero in on media topics, including libel and defamation, prior restraint, shield laws, gag orders, journalist access and privacy. Each section includes FAQs and key cases. Recently, the site added a section devoted to tracking ongoing cases involving confidential sources. For lawyers who focus on defending the media, Media Law Resource Center provides substantial litigation resources. It includes a brief bank, an expert witness directory, and collections of jury instructions and closing arguments. MLRC also publishes daily, monthly and quarterly bulletins on media law news and issues. Access to these resources is restricted to MLRC members, with membership fees starting at $500 for solos. The Media Center at New York Law School, is devoted to the study of telecommunications, media and new media law and policy. Its site includes a library of important media-related laws and cases. Recently, the site added a blog devoted to media law and policy. Located at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Minnesota, the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law, is directed by Jane Kirtley, a highly regarded media lawyer who was formerly executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The site provides current and archived issues of the Silha Bulletin, with updates and reports on media law issues. A resources page provides links to amicus briefs, reports and other documents. The Student Press Law Center has a good collection of news and resources about student free-press rights. It includes a “virtual lawyer” that helps visitors find answers to media law questions. Members of the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law, include lawyers who represent the print media, the telecommunications industry and the electronic media. The forum’s site recently added Amicus Central, where members can post information about current appeals and requests for amicus support. It includes current and archived copies of the section’s quarterly periodical, Communications Lawyer. Visitors can sign up for the forum’s e-mail alert. The Federal Communications Bar Association, is an organization of attorneys and other professionals involved in communication law and policy. Together with Indiana University School of Law, it sponsors the Federal Communications Law Journal. Robert J. Ambrogi is a lawyer and media consultant in Rockport, Mass.

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