...In late 2012, the Freedom of the Press Foundation was created by Daniel Ellsberg, The Intercept’s co-founder Laura Poitras, John Cusack, Xeni Jardin, various EFF officials such as J.P. Barlow, and myself (along with those founders, the board now includes Intercept technologist Micah Lee and Edward Snowden). As I wrote when we announced its formation, the primary objective, beyond the original project of destroying the extra-judicial financial blockade of WikiLeaks, was “to ensure that truly independent journalistic outlets — devoted to holding the U.S. government and other powerful factions accountable with transparency and real adversarial journalism — are supported to the fullest extent possible.”
Brandon Smith is exactly the type of independent journalist we had in mind when we formulated that mission. As he recounts in the discussion I had with him (transcript below), he has struggled significantly since leaving his job years ago as a reporter for a local paper in Ohio in order to work independently, yet he just broke one of the biggest and most important police brutality stories of the decade through intrepid determination and an adversarial posture to those in power. Funding will enable him to continue not only the substantial work left to be done on the Laquan McDonald case, which he details here, but a wide range of other investigative projects he is pursuing.
Today, Freedom of the Press Foundation is announcing a new crowd-sourced fundraising campaign called the Transparency for Police Fund, which “will fund local journalists around the United States to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other transparency lawsuits aimed at uncovering police misconduct and video evidence of brutality against unarmed men and women.” The first two recipients are Smith as well as Invisible Institute, a journalism and transparency group in the South Side of Chicago that was also instrumental in forcing release of the McDonald tape.