AP reported President Barack Obama received an award "for making the government more open and transparent — presented to him behind closed doors with no news coverage or public access allowed." The event offered evidence that Obama's minders may be the worst enemies of his presidency — and that the PR pros are badly fumbling the PR ball.
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Watchdogs were alarmed last week that the GOP "budget-cutting" campaign had targeted OpenGov data programs in order to fund tax cuts for billionaires. But sharp-eyed Daniel Schuman has been covering the developments on the Sunlight Foundation's blog since the first fiscal year 2011 budget bill passed.
The Freedom-of-Information establishment annually tries to remind the citizens and journalists of our democracy that this form of government must have a free press and lots of information to be healthy. This year was no exception. They celebrated "Sunshine Week," advancing freedom-of-information on many fronts.
As a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear plant continues to spew radiation into the environment, journalists and people across the world are getting an unwelcome lesson in how secrecy can threaten people's health and safety. A New York Times team finally on March 16 did the story on the withholding of information. Read their coverage, as well as others.Region:
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is about to release millions of feet of film containing aerial images that have been declassified. Such images have in the past been a boon to environmental research. It remains to be seen whether the contractors will charge prices that effectively prevent use by journalists and the public.Topics on the Beat:
According to the AP, the Chemical Safety Board, which has been monitoring the testing, wanted further tests to confirm whether a fundamental design flaw may have contributed to failure of the blowout preventer's control podsTopics on the Beat:
Sunshine Week is spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Gridiron Club — with collaboration by a large number of coalition member groups.
Before picking up stories based on journals in the environmental sciences, reporters might pause to ask about those journals' policies on transparency and potential conflict of interest. And then ask about enforcement, and any relevant conflict declarations on the article in question.
Former National Freedom of Information director Coalition Charles N. Davis said the bill "puts Utah in a class of one, alone in an anti-democratic zone in which the governors enjoy almost carte blanche over what information they deign to share with the rabble.”
In the case of Milner v. Department of the Navy, the court rejected an expansive interpretation of the FOIA exemption on personnel matters. And in another FOIA case decided March 1, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations do not have a right of personal privacy that can prevent the federal government from disclosing records about them.