The SEJ WatchDog Alert

The WatchDog Alert (formerly WatchDog TipSheet from 2008-2019) was a regular 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.

WatchDog was compiled, edited and written by Joseph A. Davis, who directs the WatchDog Project, an activity of SEJ's Freedom of Information Task Force that reports on secrecy trends and supports reporters' efforts to make better use of FOIA.

Topics on the Beat: 

Latest WatchDog Alert Items

December 16, 2015

December 2, 2015

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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."

  • 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.

November 11, 2015

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