Craig Newmark Renews Support for Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic


The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic (MFIA) has extended its partnership with Craig Newmark Philanthropies, which has awarded the clinic a grant for a fifth year. Newmark’s grant will help support a full-time fellow for the coming academic year and advances the clinic’s mission of defending the rights of journalists and promoting government accountability.

MFIA was the first law clinic in the country founded to promote government accountability by defending freedom of the press and enforcing the public’s right to know. The clinic provides pro bono litigation services to journalists, small and online news organizations, academic researchers, and advocacy organizations.

“We are grateful that Craig Newmark has agreed to continue our partnership in the defense of a free press and fact-based journalism and appreciate this vote of confidence in the work being done by MFIA students,” said MFIA Director David Schulz ’78, the Floyd Abrams Lecturer in Law at Yale law School. “Craig’s commitment to defending the interests of journalists enabled MFIA to expand its efforts at a time when this work is vitally needed.”

In the current academic year, Craig Newmark Philanthropies is supporting the appointment of full-time attorney, Clinical Lecturer in Law and Newmark Fellow Tobin Raju. As the clinic’s third Craig Newmark Fellow, Raju oversees a dynamic docket advancing press freedoms in New England and beyond.

Over the last year, with support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, MFIA has litigated the First Amendment rights of journalists, filed Freedom of Information Act requests, and submitted amicus briefs supporting government transparency. Among several victories, the clinic gained access to information showing if a Maine jail recoded attorney-client calls, obtained financial and contractual records on West Point’s sports program, and closed an exception that let police withhold records in cold cases in Connecticut.

“A vigorous press helps defend our country, so America is itself defended by a serious defense of journalism,” Newmark said. 

Newmark is a web pioneer and philanthropist, best known for creating the online classified ads service craigslist. His full-time philanthropic work focuses on organizations on the frontlines of protecting America’s security and democracy. Newmark has given more than $300 million in support of veterans and military families, trustworthy journalism and civic engagement campaigns, cyber security education programs, hunger relief, and pigeon rescue.

Newmark was influenced by his Sunday school teachers who escaped the Holocaust and whom he credits with setting his moral compass, teaching him to treat people like you want to be treated, and how to know when enough is enough. He stepped away from the day-to-day running of craigslist almost two decades ago but still occasionally volunteers as a customer service representative.

The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic is dedicated to increasing government transparency, defending the essential work of news gatherers, and protecting freedom of expression through impact litigation, direct legal services, and policy work.