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

October 5, 2011

  • A historian at the National Security Archives made a Freedom of Information Act request in March 2010 to the CIA’s Center on Climate Change and National Security (CCCNS). On Sept. 16, 2011, the CIA finally responded, telling Richelson that all the material he requested was classified and thus exempt from FOIA.

  • A frustrated Federal Times reporter filed a Freedom-of-Information-Act request for the names and phone numbers of all DHS press officers. When he finally got the 58-page list of names, the agency had blacked out all the work phones, cell phones, and e-mail addresses.

September 21, 2011

  • The event, co-sponsored by the Society of Environmental Journalists and other groups, is free and open to the public (RSVP). Panelists include: Curtis Brainard, Columbia Journalism Review science editor; Joseph A. Davis, (SEJ) WatchDog editor; Felice Freyer, Association of Health Care Journalists; Darren Samuelsohn, Politico’s senior energy/environment reporter; and Clothilde Le Coz, Reporters Without Borders energy/environment reporter.

     

     

  • Under fire from all sides for excessive secrecy, the Obama administration has just issued a status report touting its "open government" achievements. One assessment of the report came from the Federation of American Scientists' long-time secrecy watchdog, Steven Aftergood.

  • Details and documents on the 2006 US-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement will be released after a federal appeals court ruled Sept. 16, 2011, against claims by the Office of the US Trade Representative that the documents, sought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Conservation Northwest, were exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

  • Dam inspections began before the Dec. 2008 spill incident of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal-ash slurry in Tennessee. Afterward, the initial draft engineer's report of the pre-spill inspection noted several eroded areas needed to be fixed "immediately;" the word was subsequently struck from the report.

  • Judge Gregory Presnell ruled that the federal Freedom of Information Act did not allow an injunction before the agency itself had made its decision on whether to release the records.

  • A joint investigation by Columbia Journalism Review and ProPublica into the Obama administration's science openness policies offered only faint praise for Obama's accomplishments. Nearly 400 of roughly 2,100 invited journalists responded to their survey, and they gave both the Bush and Obama administrations poor marks for openness at science agencies.

  • Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has reintroduced a bill that would establish a limited federal protection for journalists when prosecutor and courts seek to compel them to disclose their confidential sources. A similar measure died on the Senate floor at the end of the last Congress.

September 8, 2011

  • In formal comments on EPA's August 5, 2011, draft Scientific Integrity Policy, submitted September 2, SEJ recommended that EPA adopt portions of a model policy drafted by the Union of Concerned Scientists in addition to affirming that "media have a right to interact with EPA staff, including scientists, without having agency staff and/or political minders listening in or otherwise taking part."

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