Articles about "Sunshine Week"


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Public Records Geek will engage in tug-of-war, when necessary

In her first newspaper job with The Frederick News-Post in Frederick, Md., Kelly Hinchcliffe got a call that the school district called a news conference.

Why? she asked many times, but no one explained.

So when Hinchcliffe showed up and saw a stack of press releases on the table, she grabbed one and sat down.

A public information officer rushed over and said she couldn’t have the release until after the press conference.

“I said, well, it becomes a public record when it’s created, not when you say you want to hand it to me,” Hinchcliffe told the woman.

A tug-of-war over that press release followed, “and I’m telling her, the public records law says…” Hinchcliffe said in a phone interview with Poynter.… Read more

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As government tightens access, residents can’t find out time for Easter egg hunt

Editor’s Note: March 16 to 22 marks Sunshine Week, the annual effort by media organizations to highlight the vital importance of transparency and openness in a robust democracy. The following is an editorial from Angela Greiling Keane, 2013 National Press Club president, and David Cuillier, president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

When the Valley Journals of Riverton, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, wanted to know the time of the town’s 2012 Easter egg hunt, they couldn’t find out. The city barred the parks official from speaking to reporters without permission, and nothing, not even the Second Coming, would pry that information loose.

What Valley Journals Managing Editor Linda Petersen experienced is unfortunately all too common – and becoming more so – in Utah, Washington, D.C., and other government shops across the country.… Read more

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Obama administration denied, censored more FOIA requests in 2013 than it approved

Associated Press | National Security Archive

The Obama Administration cited national security when withholding information from FOIA requests more than 8,000 times in 2013, the Associated Press reports. That’s a “57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year, when it cited that reason 3,658 times,” Ted Bridis and Jack Gillum write.

The overall number of requests to which the government replied was up 2 percent, but government figures show “the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records,” they write. Sometimes the government told AP it just couldn’t find information:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, whose top official has testified to Congress repeatedly about NSA surveillance programs disclosed by contractor Edward Snowden, told the AP it couldn’t find any records or emails in its offices asking other federal agencies to be on the lookout for journalists to whom Snowden provided classified materials.

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How to use FOIA laws to find stories, deepen sourcing

To mark Sunshine Week, March 16-22, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press explains how journalists can use information access laws to develop stories in the public interest. This post is written by Emily Grannis, the Jack Nelson FOI Legal Fellow at the RCFP.

Freedom of information laws are invaluable resources to reporters covering any beat. The laws provide access to a wide range of government documents, from budgets to emails, and contracts to crime reports.

There are two ways to incorporate freedom of information materials into your reporting: start with the documents or start with the story.

When you start with the documents, think about which government records might be interesting to see or might contain information that will build a story. Then request them.… Read more

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Ohio governor quickly reverses ban on cameras, audio recorders at budget briefing

Dayton Daily News
Gov. John Kasich‘s spokeswoman said earlier today that journalists could bring only pens, notepads and tape recorders to the budget briefing; the audio couldn’t be used for anything but checking accuracy, she said. The edict was reversed after news organizations protested. … Read more

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Plain Dealer documents how slow Cleveland City Hall is to respond to records requests

Cleveland Plain Dealer
On Feb. 2, the paper asked City Hall for records that track public-records requests. It’s still trying to get all the information. “In Cleveland, obtaining records in what should be a routine process can instead be a frustrating and cumbersome experience,” writes Rachel Dissell. … Read more

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