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Promoting Media Freedom

Through the Kurt Wimmer Media Freedom Pro Bono Initiative, the firm undertakes a broad range of pro bono matters aimed at protecting and advancing media freedom. The Wimmer Initiative was launched as a tribute to our late partner, Kurt Wimmer, an international leader in media law. Kurt embodied the best values of our profession and was deeply committed to his pro bono practice focused on protecting journalists and advancing free press.

Through the Wimmer Initiative, our lawyers provide pro bono support on media freedom matters across two main pillars: protecting and advancing media freedom and the safety of journalists, and advising nonprofit newsrooms on media law and operational issues. Our lawyers honor Kurt’s legacy by committing to ensuring that journalists around the world are free to tell the truth, and that nonprofit news organizations are equipped with the free legal support they need to do so.

Representative Matters

Maria Ressa

In collaboration with Amal Clooney, a team of Covington lawyers serve as U.S. counsel to Maria Ressa, CEO, Co-founder and Executive Editor of Rappler, a leading online news platform in the Philippines. Filipino authorities aggressively targeted Ms. Ressa and Rappler in the wake of their exposés uncovering human rights abuses and reporting on the manipulation of social media by President Rodrigo Duterte's administration in order to disseminate government propaganda. Ms. Ressa received a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.

Advocacy for Journalists Targeted by Authoritarian Governments

In addition to the firm’s representation of Maria Ressa, we regularly work with the ABA Center for Human Rights and the Clooney Foundation for Justice on matters related to freedom of expression and due process for human rights defenders and journalists who are targeted for criminal prosecution by authoritarian governments.

Photojournalist Injured by DC Police

We represent a photojournalist in a lawsuit against the DC Police Department arising from serious injuries our client suffered after being struck in the eye by a crowd control projectile during a Black Lives Matter protest.

The Marshall Project

The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to covering America’s criminal justice system. Covington attorneys provide TMP with media law advice, including on First Amendment, FOIA, copyright and privacy issues, as well as advice regarding TMP’s partnerships with other news organizations. We have advised TMP on two reports which later won Pulitzer Prizes. Through our work, we help further TMP's mission to "strive to educate and enlarge the audience of people who care about the state of criminal justice.”

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The firm is currently representing RFE/RL in potential remedies against Russia, including under bilateral investment treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights, in response to Russian government measures and Russia's controversial foreign agent law that has shutdown RFE/RL’s official operations in the country.

Center for Investigative Reporting

Covington recently obtained the dismissal of a defamation case against the Center for Investigative Reporting, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit. In October 2022, after securing two decisive victories, our clients agreed to a $1.925 million settlement from plaintiffs Planet Aid and Lisbeth Thomsen. This settlement is believed to be the largest amount ever received by a defendant for attorney’s fees under an anti-SLAPP statute. The case is an example of the troubling trend of deep-pocketed interests seeking to silence journalists with meritless, expensive defamation suits.

PEN America / Online Harassment Field Manual

Covington reviewed and edited the legal sections of PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual, a first-of-its-kind digital toolkit for writers, journalists, their allies and employers.