Archives for March, 2016

No, government is not too open

Posted: March 13, 2016 | Tags: Sunshine Week, Transparency

“CharlesLewis”

Photo by Jeff Watts

Charles Lewis

Executive Editor Charles Lewis debated Stanford Professor Bruce Cain on March 15 at the University of Missouri about whether there is too much transparency — or not enough — in the federal government.

The event was digitally recorded and sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs.

Prior to the debate Lewis wrote the following:

The United States has a noisy and utterly imperfect representational democracy, disorderly and dysfunctional in many ways. But as Founding Father James Madison famously observed, “A popular Government, without popular information, or ...

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No, government is not too open

March 13-19 was Sunshine Week — a nationwide celebration of access to public information. Across the country, the week was marked by panel discussions, workshops and other events about using and understanding the latest developments in freedom-of-information resources. One of those was an event at the University of Missouri in which Charles Lewis, the Workshop's executive editor, argued that government has not become too transparent.

iFOIA's new site features tracking

Since 1996 the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has offered a free letter-generating service to provide users with the correct language and structure for FOIA requests. Over the past year the committee looked for ways to expand this tool to better serve reporters. In recognition of the fact that a single investigation can require hundreds of FOIA requests, they sought to make it easier for journalists to track and organize records requests.

“Reporters are always trying to remember where they’ve submitted requests, how much time has passed since they made the request and who they need to follow up with,” said Emily Grannis of the new ifOIA website.

Privacy vs. the public's right to know

Scholars and watchdog groups say the federal government — and the Supreme Court — have slowly expanded privacy rights beyond the guidelines established in FOIA. Supreme Court decisions in five FOIA cases shed light on how the government came to value privacy interests over the public’s right to know.


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