Investigative journalism is hardly about paper documents anymore. The cutting edge today is more likely to be requests for emails, as well as text messages, chats and other electronic communications such as Slack. This big challenge was front and center at the recent meeting of the National Freedom of Information Coalition.
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In addition to nuisance smells, confined animal feeding operations (aka CAFOs) can present serious air and water pollution problems. They are weakly regulated. Now a federal appeals court says information on who owns those feedlots can be kept secret. Image: © Clipart.com.
Should a federal agency be able to tell a science reporter whom they can — and can't — interview? The issue exploded in September with publication of a deeply reported piece on the "close-hold embargo" by Scientific American. Photo: © Clipart.com.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest (pictured) highlighted a few of the Obama administration's steps forward on openness in an Aug 30, 2016, letter to the New York Times. But transparent? Not so much, according to many journalists in the trenches, and a large number of news media and journalism groups who have asked for more from the White House and not heard back.
Is text messaging compatible with open meetings? Courts have for several years upheld the notion that texts can be public records. The problem, of course, is knowing about them — since they are less visible than meeting minutes. Image: © Clipart.com.
Journalists are sometimes competitive — and even secretive about the exclusive "scoops" they may be working on, lest their competitors beat them to publication. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is conducting a survey to get journalists' opinions on the Obama admin's proposed release-to-one-release-to-all policy.
The news media often defend the freedom-of-information principles that allow them to hold government accountable for their audiences. But will they ask presidential candidates during the 2016 presidential debates how they stand on government transparency? Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton (pictured) doesn't do press conferences.
Authorities in both Cleveland and Philadelphia placed new restrictions on media covering the Republican convention, including banning gas masks, backpacks and bags bigger than 18" x 13" x 7" — which severely cramps broadcast journalists' ability to carry electronic gear.
Don't get us wrong: the U.S. federal government's openness to public scrutiny leaves much to be desired. Still, it's worth noting that some improvements have taken place. Here are a few prominent ones. Image: Clipart.com.
Some commenters say Donald Trump has declared "war on the press." But Hillary Clinton has herself given little access to the news media during the campaign so far. Worse yet, parts of the news media seem to be making the problem worse, by not advocating for press freedom and open information. Profits and ratings have trumped the First Amendment.