The SEJ WatchDog


 

 


 

Searchable archives of the biweekly WatchDog TipSheet's story ideas, articles, updates, events and other information with a focus on freedom-of-information issues of concern to environmental journalists in both the U.S. and Canada are posted here on the day of publication. Journalists are eligible for a free email subscription; send name and full contact information to the SEJ office. WatchDog TipSheet is also available via RSS feed.


Latest WatchDog TipSheet Items

October 9, 2013

  • OpenTheGovernment.org publishes an annual report on quantifying government secrecy with specific numeric indicators. This year it began with a bombshell statement — saying it could not really guarantee all of its numbers because nobody could any longer trust what the US government tells its citizens in this area.

  • When the Oregon government refused to tell her about oil trains, Eugene Weekly environment reporter Camilla Mortensen (pictured) learned about them from a train-hopping local cinematographer. Now you can roam the freight yards with your camera and know what you are looking at. And/or download the UN Number app.

September 25, 2013

  • On Saturday, October 5: At 9:00 a.m. SEJ FOI Task Force Chair Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun will moderate a session on overcoming obstacles put up by agency press offices to reporters who want to interview government officials. At 10:45 a.m. WatchDog Editor Joe Davis will present a hands-on session with tips for sleuthing dam and levee stories using federal databases like the National Inventory of Dams and the National Levee Database.

  • Incoming EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy may have signaled an opening in the agency's long-troubled relations with the news media during her September 20, 2013, announcement of EPA's carbon rule at the National Press Club.

  • News broken this month by Politico revealed the existence of a Koch brothers fund that quietly handed out some $250 million to conservative causes during the 2012 elections. Under U.S. law, such groups are tax-exempt, can raise unlimited amounts of money, and do not have to disclose their donors.

  • In 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) required publicly traded companies to disclose to their stockholders (and the public) what business risks they might face from climate change. Almost three-quarters of the companies are still ignoring the rule, and their shareholders are flying blind.

  • In 2010, BLM denied Horseback Magazine photojournalist Laura Leigh access to federal land to photograph a roundup. She went to court, was rejected, then went to a complex chain of appeals. Now the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and other j-groups have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of photojournalists' First Amendment rights to cover government actions.

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, 2013, approved a bill shielding journalists from being compelled to reveal their confidential sources. Its prospects for enactment look iffy in a Congress noted for gridlock. The panel approved the bill (S 987, titled "The Free Flow of Information Act of 2013) by a 13-5 vote.

September 11, 2013

  • SEJ complained in an August 7 letter to CHP that the arrest of Willits News photog Steven Eberhard for attempting to document a protest was a violation of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press. CHP responded August 28, noting that its policies for news media access to the Willits highway bypass construction site had changed. However, several assertions in the letter are not true, according to Eberhard and a video of the incident. © Photo by Steve Eberhard: CHP arrests demonstrators Sept. 10, 2013, at the Willits, Calif., bypass construction site.

  • The groups said that EPA's proposed rule was needed to control pollution, under the Clean Water Act, from more than 20,000 concentrated animal feeding operations across the country. EPA initially published the rule in October 2011, but then withdrew it July 20, 2012.

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