Online Goodies from SEJ Watchdog Tipsheet

As I prepare to head off today to the 2007 conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists, I found some great online news and tools for reporters in the latest edition of SEJ’s Watchdog Tipsheet, which covers First Amendment issues for journalists who cover the environment. (Disclosure: I write for SEJ’s regular Tipsheet on environmental issues. Joseph Davis, the Watchdog Tipsheet editor, also edits the regular Tipsheet.)

  • OpenCongress better than THOMAS. The Library of Congress online legislative info service THOMAS “is a boon for reporters. But the Sunlight Foundation’s OpenCongress.org may be even better in some ways. Accessibility, ease of use, clear explanations, and making connections are the strong suits of OpenCongress. If you want to follow Congressional action on a particular issue — like the environment or many environmental sub-topics, OpenCongress can beat THOMAS hands down. …It brings together information on bills with information on Congress members themselves — a job THOMAS wouldn’t touch.”

  • FEMA hurricane aid data now online. “After winning a court appeal, [a team of four] Gannett news outlets in Florida have posted a searchable database of some two million files about FEMA aid to residents there after [hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne] in 2004.”

  • Rule used to thwart open information on cancer research. “A new OMB Watch report says that an obscure rule known as the ‘Data Quality Act’ delayed for more than a year the publication of the main government report identifying cancer-causing chemicals. The [latest edition of the] National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens (RoC) …is still under review and has not been published as final.”

  • What’s New in Science reference feed. This services from the Library of Congress Science, Technology and Business Division “offers sources of info on all kinds of environmental and related topics. …Get frequent updates on the latest cool information sources. …Includes information on upcoming speakers and Webcasts.” (Feed, archives)

  • Canadian FOI news: Datalibre.ca. “Find useful leads on a brand-new FOI blog with a strong interest in environmental issues.

  • Contractor misconduct database. “Did you know that the federal government awards contracts to companies with histories of environmental violations (not to mention histories of contract fraud, ethics, and labor violation)? In the absence of a single federal tracking mechanism on suchcontractors, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) is compiling its own growing database.

Want to follow the action at SEJ2007? I’ve created an all-volunteer unofficial SEJ2007 conference blog. There also will be official conference coverage from SEJ.

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