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.
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Jim Holzer, head of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), a post often called the FOIA Ombudsman, has decided to step down after less than a year on the job. Some Freedom of Information Act advocates are seeing this as a discouraging sign.Topics on the Beat:
The U.S. Department of the Interior is not winning many awards for openness. A House subcommittee recently took up the complaint that Interior's Office of the Solicitor would not even honor the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ombudsman's office with a response to repeated letters.
Many local and state agencies, set up under a 1986 federal law to inform the public, are a great resource for stories at the local, state, and even national level. Some don't — often based on a fear that terrorists could use the information to harm people. Here's how to find yours.
The Congressional Research Service has compiled a side-by-side analysis comparing the two bills. With only a few months of real work remaining in this volatile election year, it is not a sure thing that Congress will clear the legislation. Open-government groups on March 16, 2016, urged Obama to declare support for the legislation.
Access to legislatures is critical to journalistic coverage of government — at least if government is to be accountable and democratic. So it caused a stir when Arizona House Speaker David Gowan (R) banned reporters from the floor unless they passed extensive background checks.Topics on the Beat:Region:
Grants and contracts are a key way that the agency extends the reach of its work into the world beyond agency offices. They may include an engineering project to clean up a Superfund site, an environmental education and outreach program, snow-plowing agency parking lots, expert studies, and computer services.
Maine passed a law in 2015 that allowed railroads to keep oil-train routing information from the public — over the governor's veto. In the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting's Pine Tree Watchdog, Dave Sherwood reports how the provision was a bait-and-switch.Topics on the Beat:Region:
Bad as it is, the Flint drinking water disaster is hardly uncommon. Even though the law requires authorities to tell the public of dangerous levels of lead in drinking water, they often don't.Topics on the Beat:Region:
Not everybody loves freedom of information. Those who do celebrate "Sunshine Week" annually in hopes of educating the public about why they need to know what their governments are up to. This year, Sunshine Week will get extra oomph from the fact that the Freedom of Information Act is turning 50 years old.