Legal affairs at ONA: 2021 Year in Review

Championing access to information, government transparency and journalists' safety and security

By on February 23, 2022

The Online News Association’s Board of Directors collaborates with media law experts to formulate positions on legal issues that impact our members and other digital journalists. We focus on championing access to information, government transparency and journalists’ safety and security.

In 2021, ONA joined with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and other journalism support organizations and publishers on numerous legal amicus and advocacy efforts in local, state, federal and international forums.

Some of the notable efforts include:

  • Objecting to an unconstitutional prior restraint imposed by a New York court against the New York Times relating to its reporting about Project Veritas
  • Objecting to the imposition of a significant fine against Bloomberg by a French court for violating European Union regulations against disseminating false information, when Bloomberg published a news article about a press release that was later discovered to be fake
  • Supporting New Yorker author Jill Lepore in seeking access to sealed grand jury records investigating the 1971 Pentagon Papers leak
  • Asking the U.S. Justice Department to incorporate press freedom considerations into its probes of the Minneapolis and Louisville police departments
  • Requesting public access to all papers, records and documents from disciplinary proceedings pending against Rudy Giuliani
  • Objecting to the Nebraska governor’s press credentialing process that excluded a local news outlet based on its perceived political leanings, leading the governor to amend the policy and grant credentials to the local outlet
  • Advocating for expansive and timely access to public records under U.S. federal and state freedom of information laws
  • Condemning prosecution of a local public radio journalist in Oregon who was arrested while covering the eviction of houseless campers from a public park
  • Advocating for the broad application of state-level anti-SLAPP laws in the U.S. to protect journalists against the chilling effect of meritless lawsuits.

Read more

  • Explore the 2021 Retrospective to learn more about ONA’s mission and how we support the digital journalism community.
  • See previous recaps of ONA’s legal affairs efforts in 2020 and 2019.

Alison Schary

Alison Schary is ONA's general counsel. In her role at Davis Wright Tremaine, she represents and counsels clients on a wide range of issues in media and intellectual property law, including libel, privacy, copyright, newsgathering and First Amendment matters. Alison regularly defends clients against claims for defamation, privacy and newsgathering torts, and she has experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in intellectual property matters. Alison also advises newspaper, magazine, website, television and book-publishing clients on pre-publication and pre-broadcast legal issues.