Journalists reporting on energy and natural resources just got a new data resource: a report from the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Want to know what the government gets paid for coal, oil, and mining on federal lands? It has pretty good answers.
A new online FOIA portal being tested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation requires requesters to provide government-issued IDs. That brought a letter seeking explanation from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR, pictured).
Representatives of a coalition of 53 journalism groups met December 15, 2015, with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. The groups, including SEJ and Society of Professional Journalists, have complained about agency press offices obstructing reporters' access to officials and information.
Here are some reports of possible interest to environmental journalists from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Congress does not release them to the public, but the Union of Concerned Scientists' Government Secrecy Project does.
It's never too early for journalists to complain about secrecy. Case in point: the database of drone owners which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to register. A key task force recently recommended that the database be exempt from the federal Freedom of Information Act.
States often keep consumer complaint data, and it may be available under public records laws. The nonprofit consumer group Truth in Advertising recently finished a review of all 50 U.S. states' consumer complaint databases — and how easy they were to access.
One reason for thinking the White House endorses and enforces tight message control is the fact that many agency press secretaries come from a background of working on presidential elections campaigns. Journalism groups have raised their hopes now that a meeting with the White House has been scheduled mid-December. At the meeting will be representatives of SEJ, the Society of Professional Journalists and possibly others, representing concerns of a coalition of more than 50 other j-groups.
The University of Missouri "safe space" incident on Nov 9, 2015 rekindled questions and debate about journalists' First Amendment right of access to spaces. One of the best practical guides to law on this issue is the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press publication, "A Reporter's Field Guide."
A disturbing story of poor chemical company compliance with environmental and safety rules was released October 22, 2015, by a watchdog group. It could have — and perhaps should have — been done by a news publication. And it shows the use journalists could make of several key databases.
An important, but little-known, transparency law requires that FAC meetings be open to the public. But a new study shows that more than two-thirds of the time, they are not. On those committees, industry "experts" who have a financial stake may be telling agencies to ignore scientific findings in their regulation of things like environmental health and toxic chemicals.