Legal affairs at ONA: 2022 Year in Review

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

By on February 13, 2023

The Online News Association 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 2022, 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:

  • Arguing in a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief that federal officials should not be shielded from personal liability when they retaliate against individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights
  • Challenging a prior restraint against the New York Times over its reporting about Project Veritas
  • Proposing modifications to the U.S. Supreme Court’s proposed rule regarding sealed documents
  • Seeking to ensure public access to court records in court-martial of Seaman Apprentice Ryan Mays, who was found not guilty of setting fire to the USS Bonhomme Richard
  • Urging a federal appellate court to hold that Iowa’s “ag-gag” law, which restricts undercover investigations into commercial agriculture, is unconstitutional
  • Seeking to protect prompt public access to court filings in Vermont
  • Arguing for the availability of attorney fees for a news organization that successfully obtained disclosure of police internal affairs file under New Jersey law
  • Supporting Gannett and the Associated Press to protect the fair report privilege and single-publication rule in a defamation action by the National Police Association
  • Advocating for passage of a federal reporter’s shield law

For years, ONA has also been part of a media coalition filing amicus briefs in support of unsealing video recordings of California’s Proposition 8 trial from 2010. In October, the recordings were finally made available to the public after the proponents of continued sealing finally exhausted all of their appeals.

Read more

  • Explore the 2022 Retrospective to learn more about ONA’s mission and how we support the digital journalism community.
  • Read previous recaps of ONA’s legal affairs efforts in 2021, 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.