Newspapers can’t be counted on to fight to open court proceedings the way they used to, legal affairs columnist Adam Liptak writes in the New York Times. He cited a public defender who recently wrote in a Supreme Court brief, “The days of powerful newspapers with ample legal budgets appear to be numbered.” Thanks to The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif., the press and public have nearly an absolute constitutional right to attend jury selection in criminal cases. In the 1980's, the paper fought ferociously establish that principle in the Supreme Court.
News organizations used to consider those kinds of litigations a matter of civic responsibility. “For the last four decades, maybe longer, citizens have been able to rely on small, medium and large news organizations, mostly newspapers, to fight their access battles on their behalf,” said Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. These days, she said, “the access litigations have dried up.”