WatchDog TipSheet

Federal Judge Strikes Down Idaho "Ag-Gag" Law as Unconstitutional

"The facts show the state's purpose in enacting the statute was to protect industrial animal agriculture by silencing its critics," district Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote. Sometimes investigative journalists need to go undercover. And sometimes muckraking journalists need undercover whistleblowers to tip them to abuses.

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53 Journalism Groups Ask Obama To End Press Office Blockades

SEJ, which has complained about press-office restrictions for years, joined over 50 other journalism groups in signing an Aug 10, 2015 letter requesting government transparency — again. The groups had sent a letter to the White House in July 2014, a followup in Aug 2014, resulting in a non-response response from the WH later that month.

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Are Health Warnings on Soda Unconstitutional? Industry Says Yes

The American Beverage Association, California State Outdoor Advertising Association and California Retailers Association sued San Francisco for requiring health warnings on advertisements for certain sugary beverages when posted on city property, saying it violates their First Amendment rights.

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Filming in Parks and Forests: The Alaskan Angle

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (pictured) has proposed a bill that would (among other things) set a flat $200 annual fee to permit unlimited shooting by small film crews. Now E&E Daily reports Murkowski's filmmaker nephew faced the fees-and-permits barrier when he wanted to shoot near her father's home, surrounded by the Tongass National Forest.

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Railroads Still Don't Want Public To Know Oil Train Danger

If you want to know whether an oil train is going by your community, just go down to the railroad tracks and watch for it. But don't ask the railroad or the state. In many cases, they don't think you can be trusted with this secret.

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EPA Crisis Communications Plan: Accurate, Timely, Approved Information

EPA's Plan, approved back on January 15, 2009, mandates giving "understandable, timely, accurate, and consistent information to the public." The plan laudably emphasizes coordination with other agencies — but it also leads to strong message control.

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Secret Congressional Background Reports Leak Again; Debate Continues

Here are some recently leaked CRS reports of relevance to environmental journalists, as well as the latest on the debate following the NYT editorial calling for the reports to be made public.

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Backroom Plot To Scuttle Wisconsin FOIA Falls to Disclosure, Outrage

When a stealth legislative move to dismantle Wisconsin's open records law was revealed this month, a statewide uproar caused sponsors to back off. Appropro that the old lesson "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" would be taught once again around July 4, 2015.

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Release-to-One, Release-to-All FOIA Pilot Shakes Some Journos

A new pilot program would make available to the public automatically and immediately any information released to an individual FOIA requester. But some journalists would rather not have their pending scoops revealed before they are ripe. Image source: U.S. government.

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