The SEJ WatchDog

 

The WatchDog TipSheet is a biweekly 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. To subscribe to the e-newsletter, email your name and preferred email address to sej@sej.org

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

Latest WatchDog TipSheet Items

January 12, 2012

  • It's a common practice, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers even do it when the work is government-funded. Environmental reporters should be asking questions.

  • It remains to be seen how successful the House will be in timely posting of electronic versions of bills — especially when they are thousand-page appropriations bills being rammed through at the last minute. The WatchDog will be watching to see if bills are published electronically well before subcommittee markups begin.

  • According to the Los Angeles Times, recent directives from the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force suggest that merely filming commercial acts of cruelty to animals could be a terrorist offense — something that now can lead to indefinite military detention without trial.

  • In response to a request for live-streaming of the trial, the judge has expanded the gag order for the case, a class-action lawsuit seeking medical monitoring for people who may have been exposed to hazardous chemicals produced at Monsanto's former plant in Nitro, W.V.

  • Environmental journalists are still waiting to see whether EPA revises the draft Scientific Integrity Policy in which it claims the right to keep scientists from talking to reporters without press office permission — and have Saddam-style "minders" sit in on interviews.

  • Somewhere near you there is probably an activist who has been doggedly seeking documents from a local, state, or federal agency which has been reluctant to provide them. Their story might well be worth telling. Sunshine Week, March 11-17, 2012, will celebrate "Local Heroes" with a roundup of such stories.

January 12, 2011

  • The searchable database is finally being published online for the first time after Congress mandated it in a rider to the 2008 omnibus appropriations bill. EPA compromised after protests from industry, limiting it to only the largest emitters. Pick only emitters in certain states. Focus on emissions of each of the six greenhouse gases it includes — or to customize views according to size of emission or emitting industry.

December 14, 2011

  • One example is Walt Tamosaitis, who works for an Energy Department subcontractor. He told a Senate panel on December 6, 2011, that when he raised technical issues about whether nuclear waste cleanup was being done right at the Hanford Site in Washington, he was taken off the project and exiled to the basement.

  • The Portland judge ruled that blogger Crystal Cox, who published allegations against businessman Kevin Padrick and was subsequently sued by Padrick for defamation, was not a journalist as she lacked any conventional journalistic credentials or affiliations, and therefore was not entitled to the protections of the state's shield law.

  • Colorado, which adopted its disclosure rules December 13, 2011, joins Texas, Pennsylvania, and several other states in requiring some disclosure by drillers of the chemicals they pump into shale formations under high pressures to release natural gas. Scores of chemicals, some very toxic, may be involved.

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