If you have a FOIA request pending, it is likely to be on hold. Moreover, the people who could verify this are not answering the phone. Want to file a new FOIA request? Good luck. The federal government is shut down, and as of now there is no sign that it will go back to work.
- SEJ Publication Types:Topics on the Beat:Visibility:
The Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, 2013, approved a bill shielding journalists from being compelled to reveal their confidential sources. Its prospects for enactment look iffy in a Congress noted for gridlock. The panel approved the bill (S 987, titled "The Free Flow of Information Act of 2013) by a 13-5 vote.
Can a federal employee who discloses lax safety inspections of gas pipelines or terminals be fired? That might be the case under a new federal appeals court decision that limits the whistleblower protections for federal employees who disclose "sensitive," but noncritical national security information.
A Dallas Morning News investigation published August 24, 2013, found that nine times out of ten, government information about chemical safety was wrong or missing. It's a story of government's incompetence at keeping the public safe.
If you expect nothing from the press office, you will rarely be disappointed. Even getting a callback before your deadline is a major feat. Good stories rarely come from a call to the press office, but there are times when you have to call them. Even public affairs professionals admit that good reporters do their best to circumvent the public affairs people. Try these tips!
Journalists of all stripes heard a panel debate: "Government Public Affairs Offices: More Hindrance Than Help?" August 12, 2013, at the National Press Club, with unsurprising results. The real news may have been presentation of results of a survey conducted by an assistant professor at Kennesaw State University. To risk summarizing in a headline: things are as bad as SEJ members have complained they are.
Here's more evidence of why documents should be leaked to reporters: a Powerpoint obtained by LA Times' Neela Banerjee shows EPA's Region 3 staff argued a year ago for continuing its investigation of fracking pollution around Dimock, PA — as EPA HQ announced it was ending its study of Dimock wells. Now there's an echo in Pavillion, WY.Region:
House and Senate Republicans made a big deal over EPA "transparency" while McCarthy's nomination was being held up in the Senate, for 130 days. Then on July 9, 2013, the Senate Environment Committee's ranking minority member said he would drop his filibuster threat because EPA had agreed to some of his demands on transparency.
Science is the key to many environmental stories, and EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) offers a wide range of data tools journalists may find worthwhile to explore.
Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health show silica used in hydraulic fracturing of tight oil and gas formations can endanger workers. But a FOIA request seeking to know the sites where workers had been endangered has met with no response, independent journalist and SEJ member Elizabeth Grossman reports.