The SEJ WatchDog

 

The WatchDog TipSheet is a monthly source of story ideas, articles, updates, events and other information with a focus on freedom-of-information issues of concern to environmental journalists in both the United States and Canada.

Journalists can receive WatchDog TipSheet free by subscribing to the SEJournal Online, the digital news magazine of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here

WatchDog TipSheet is also available through the searchable archive below and via RSS feed.

Latest WatchDog TipSheet Items

June 17, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Not all journalists were welcome at the Heartland Institute's annual conference messaging doubt about climate change June 11, 2015. Brendan Montague, editor of DeSmog UK, was denied a press pass for the event and escorted from the meeting site by hotel security.

June 3, 2015

  • It appears to an outside observer that NYT reporter Coral Davenport was uninvited to EPA's "Waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) rule announcement phone call as retaliation for an unfavorable story she had written about the agency's public affairs operation the week before. EPA says not.

  • Journalists, think tanks, and advocacy groups all gave low marks to the Obama administration's performance under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) at a House hearing June 2 and 3, 2015. Some GOP members used the occasion to score partisan points; see the video and document archives.

  • The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and SEJ sent a letter to Josh Earnest (pictured), White House Press Secretary, May 29, 2015, asking for a meeting to discuss restrictions that infringe on journalists' abilities to report on the federal government. The letter follows up on earlier pleas from some 38 journalism groups to the White House for more openness.

  • The Congressional Research Service, a taxpayer-funded agency, produces a steady stream of fact-filled and objective background reports on many issues of interest to environment and energy reporters but refuses to share them with the public. But there are other ways to access them...

May 20, 2015

  • The public is not allowed to know the terms of the draft Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact likely to come up for a Senate vote this year. Yet the Senate has already begun voting on terms for considering the treaty, which may allow other nations to override U.S. health, safety, and environmental protection laws. Fortunately, WikiLeaks has already published a leaked version of the environmental chapter of the TPP treaty.

  • The watchdog group Center for Effective Government offers data tools that partly offset government failures to protect people from dangerous materials that poison or injure people, burn, or explode. They are also tools for journalists trying to inform their communities.

Pages