What is Access Across America?
Access Across America is a national FOI training tour for journalists in May 2010, sponsored by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, National Freedom of Information Coalition and University of Arizona School of Journalism to spread training in acquiring public records. Freedom of Information Committee Chairman David Cuillier is traveling the country by car providing training for chapters and newsrooms. The intent is to reach as many journalists as possible, particularly those at smaller organizations who can’t afford to send people to conferences.
We come to you
Cuillier provides a session, from one to two hours, covering:
— Ideas for document-based stories, on deadline or projects.
— Strategies for effective records requests, overcoming denials and lowering fees
— Psychological skills for getting officials to give you what you need without going to court.
— Rousing inspiration for doing great journalism in tough times
Participants receive handouts with tons of story ideas and records resources.
National FOI expert
Cuillier has served as an SPJ newsroom trainer in FOI since 2005 and is a frequent writer of FOI Toolbox columns in Quill. A former journalist, Cuillier teaches classes on access to records and conducts research in FOI. He is co-author with Charles Davis of the book, “The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records.”
Open to chapters and newsrooms
Training is open to SPJ chapters, newsrooms and open government coalitions. Cuillier provides the training, handouts in binders, laptop, projector and screen. Chapters and newsrooms provide the room, marketing, audience and refreshments.
Spreading FOI fervor online
During the month-long road trip Cuillier blogs daily, posting access tips along the way, updates of chapters and newsrooms he’s visited, and providing photos. An online map shows his progress as he moves from town to town.
Supporters of FOI
Thanks to SPJ and the SDX Foundation for providing a $8,250 grant to pay for the tour expenses. The University of Arizona School of Journalism provided some equipment and allowed me to take the time for the tour. Also, the National Freedom of Information Coalition provided $4,000 toward expenses for bolstering access support throughout the states. NFOIC received its money from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Established in 1950, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation makes national grants in journalism, education and arts and culture. Its fourth program, community initiatives, is concentrated in 26 communities where the Knight brothers published newspapers, but the foundations is wholly separate from and independent of those newspapers.
Access Across America Tour Stops