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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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.
Environmental journalists aren't the only ones complaining about access to officials being constrained by flacks.Topics on the Beat:Region:
The WatchDog has long whined about Congress' mystifying refusal to let taxpayers read Congressional Research Service reports the taxpayers have paid for. A June 17, 2015, editorial in the New York Times called the situation "absurd," expressing hope that a new director of the Library of Congress (home of the CRS) would manage to get the policy changed.
The mandate for disclosure of oil train information set by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in a May 2014 emergency order still exists. But getting that information will be harder — and a battle that must be fought by reporters and public safety advocates on a state-by-state basis.
The issue re-ignited recently when astrophysicist and climate change denier Willie Soon, affiliated with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was revealed to have taken funding — but not disclosed it — from fossil fuel interests. Now the Smithsonian Institution has said it will tighten its guidelines for disclosure of funding by its researchers.
At the Spills of National Significance (SONS) Draft Communications Strategy forum on June 8, and in a June 30 letter, SEJ urged SONS communicators to release data fully and promptly, to acknowledge uncertainties and gaps, and to give journalists good access to officials, experts and places.
Congress, you may remember, has exempted itself from the requirements for open government — and that included a ban on publishing taxpayer-funded explainers by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Thanks to the Federation of American Scientists, you can read them anyway.Topics on the Beat:Region:
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents on offshore Gulf fracking, and was refused by two Interior Department offshore drilling agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. CBD sued, and the lawsuit was settled June 2, 2015.
Some environmental reporters find or research stories by browsing science journals. But difficulty of access to those journals is a common barrier to robust, science-based journalism. The barriers have been getting worse, says a new study — in a science journal.