Risk Response


A FIRE-supported journalist has asked
for anonymity amid safety concerns

Protection secured in time for lawsuit

This story of bravery has to remain anonymous for now—because the protected journalist is not out of the woods yet. 

In the throes of closing a sensitive story on alleged misconduct earlier this year, an outlet agreed to field the request of a freelance journalist working on the story:

Can you make indemnification arrangements so that I'm firmly on the outlet’s media insurance?  

The story was scheduled to appear in a matter of days.

"FIRE jumped into action quickly to help ensure that my contract would protect me,” the journalist recalled about the waning days of story's close. “[The subject] has a history of acting litigiously. FIRE's access to excellent media lawyers and its doggedness in advocating for me were essential.”

The outlet cooperated with equivalent speed.

It acted just in time.

No sooner had it honored the journalist's request, than the subject of the story, when contacted for comment before publication, threatened to sue over the story.  

The outlet held its ground and ran the story. Soon after publication, there were physical threats against journalists working on the story, though no evidence has yet been found linking the incidents to the subject of the reporting.  

Since then, the subject did file a defamation suit, which presented no evidence to disprove the allegations in the story—and took other aggressive steps to quash additional reporting.  

On request of the journalist and the defense team involved, FIRE is withholding the identity of the outlet and the journalist. But the story has run, the word is out, and, with FIRE’s help and the outlet's full cooperation, the journalist is continuing to follow up on the story without fear.

FIRE will report more when it is safe to do so.