A key issue on the Freedom of Information Act is once a government record is released to a single FOIA requester, should it then be automatically released to any other requester and the general public? "Yes" was the answer from most journalists surveyed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press — but with an important caveat. Image: © Clipart.com.
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Press Secretary Josh Earnest (pictured) highlighted a few of the Obama administration's steps forward on openness in an Aug 30, 2016, letter to the New York Times. But transparent? Not so much, according to many journalists in the trenches, and a large number of news media and journalism groups who have asked for more from the White House and not heard back.Topics on the Beat:
Data journalism is in again. Some new databases, including EPA's on beaches and USGS' on dam removals, can help environmental reporters find and investigate local stories.
Is text messaging compatible with open meetings? Courts have for several years upheld the notion that texts can be public records. The problem, of course, is knowing about them — since they are less visible than meeting minutes. Image: © Clipart.com.
Food industry groups generally liked the new rule, saying that it improved transparency. But consumer groups said it did not go far enough. Image: © Clipart.com.
Embroiled in a growing scandal about efforts to cover up the science on the threat posed by coal ash to North Carolinians' drinking water, Duke Energy is asking a court to hold a hearing to discover the source of a document leaked to the Associated Press.Topics on the Beat:
Previously secret information about the safety and environmental impact of Enbridge pipeline operations was released in July as a result of efforts by journalist Mike De Souza (pictured), managing editor of the National Observer, and an independent Canadian government watchdog.
Consumers learned in late July of a "voluntary" recall of some processed food products due to possible metal fragments in sugar used to make them. The source of the contaminated sugar remains unknown, because federal law protects "trade secrets" — putting protection of companies above protection of the public. Image: © Clipart.com.
Journalists are sometimes competitive — and even secretive about the exclusive "scoops" they may be working on, lest their competitors beat them to publication. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is conducting a survey to get journalists' opinions on the Obama admin's proposed release-to-one-release-to-all policy.
The news media often defend the freedom-of-information principles that allow them to hold government accountable for their audiences. But will they ask presidential candidates during the 2016 presidential debates how they stand on government transparency? Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton (pictured) doesn't do press conferences.Topics on the Beat: