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A coalition of journalism groups, including SEJ, is calling on the U.S. Forest Service to make clear in its directives that journalists, documentarians, and media photographers do not need permits to take pictures in National Forest Wilderness or other public lands.
"News coverage on [National Forest System] lands is protected by the Constitution," wrote U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas L. Tidwell in a November 4, 2014, memo to agency leaders, "and it is our responsibility to safeguard this right on the lands we manage for all Americans. Journalists provide a critical public service, and this agency will ensure their access in the pursuit of that public service."
Eighteen journalism, photography, and First Amendment groups on October 1, 2014, wrote U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell opposing the proposal to finalize a directive requiring permits for "commercial filming" in Forest Service Wilderness areas. Tidwell has already said the USFS does not want to restrict journalism on wilderness lands, but the groups seek changes to regulatory language that would make this clear. SEJ is one of the groups.
After proposing a directive that seemed to require permits and fees for journalists working in U.S. Forest Service wilderness lands, the USFS announced that it had never intended the restrictions to apply to journalists. Tim Wheeler, chairman of the Society of Environmental Journalists' Freedom of Information Task Force, talked with USFS Chief TomTidwell to clarify the USFS position. Here's his report.
The U.S. Forest Service is seeking to harden rules that would require a journalist to get a permit and pay a fee of up to $1,500 in order to report inside a federal wilderness. [Update -- 9/25/14: Forest Service Chief Tidwell says media don't need permit]
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A large and diverse array of businesses have an interest in the environmental and energy laws that state legislatures consider: including coal, oil, plastics, chemicals, mining, forest products, and others. The possible financial stake lawmakers may have in the bills before them is fertile ground for investigation. Here's help in finding story ideas.
An initiative involving some 35 nations aims to solve many complex revenue-reporting problems, including improving the flow of information across national borders. But solutions can't even begin until individual nations get a grip on accurate data about extractive industries within their own borders. The results could illuminate key environmental policy issues.