Posts Tagged ‘Lucy Dalglish’


FOI update: Illinois city council text messages ruled public; exemption caught in Connecticut; help for Ugandan media

Text Messages, Emails are Public Records in Illinois

A city council member in Champaign, Ill., tried to withhold text and email messages between council members in response to a records request by local media. The council member claimed messages were exempt since they were sent from personal devices.  However, Sangmon County circuit court Judge John Schmidt ordered text and other electronic messages sent by the council to be turned over.

Exemption Caught in the Nick of Time in Connecticut

An exemption was proposed during a special legislative session in Connecticut that would allow the state to withold dealings with companies seeking financial assistance from the  state.

“This is as outrageous an assault on the public’s right to know as one could imagine,” said Matt DeRienzo

The exemption would exclude records between the state and companies looking to grow or move into Connecticut that request financial help from the state “…provided the disclosure of such records could adversely affect the financial interest of the state, the business or organization.” Media outlets and FOI advocates took issue with the broadly stated exemption, originally slated to pass during the June 12 legislative session.

“This is as outrageous an assault on the public’s right to know as one could imagine,” said Matt DeRienzo, group editor of Group Register Company’s Connecticut publications on a Connecticut Newsroom blog post.

However, as media outlets reacted to the overly broad wording of the bill, the government responded: The amendment was stricken from Tuesday’s special legislative  session.

Special Police Unit in Uganda

Uganda has created a special police unit to respond to abuses against media and journalists. The Press Unit comes at a much needed time for the country where there were 100 recorded cases of journalists being attacked in 2011.

“This development comes at a critical time when journalists in Uganda are starting to lose hope of getting justice for the numerous abuses and violations meted against them by both state and non-state actors,”  said Henry O. Maina, Director, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa, ARTICLE 19 reported.

* The June 6 FOI FYI blog post mentioned various testimonies during the  House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform’s hearing on the lockout policies set forth by the Department of Labor. We failed to mention that Lucy Dalglish, while executive director of Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press, was testifying on behalf of the Sunshine in Government InitiativeThe Sunshine in Government Initiative is a conglomerate of media groups, including the Society of Professionals Journalists, aimed at promoting government transparency.

SGI members (according to the SGI website):

Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with SPJ. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University after studying journalism. Connect with her via email –  wevans@hq.spj.org –  or on twitter – @whitevs7

*Know something about Freedom of Information that you think we should cover in a blog post? We want to hear from you! Send information to wevans@HQ.SPJ.org. It may be featured in a future post.

Media and FOI advocates object to proposed Department of Labor policy restricting press access

Members of the press and freedom of information advocates spoke out Wednesday, June 6, against a proposed Department of Labor policy requiring credentialed media to use government-owned computers and software when reporting on embargoed DOL data.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called the policy into question during the hearing called by the House Committee for Government Oversight.  President Obama said that his would be the most transparent administration to date, Issa said in his opening remarks, and this policy seems to counter that claim.

Currently, select media enter a secure room to receive pre-released economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Employment and Training Administration a half hour to an hour before the public release, allowing them time to review and write-up information.  They are then allowed to report the embargoed information using their own software.

*Update: Thanks to Sigma Delta Chi Foundation President and Bloomberg editor Steve Geimann for bringing the following to our attention in an email:  “A key aspect of the new policy is the use of government communication circuits, rather than proprietary lines installed, maintained and controlled by the media organizations.”

The new policy would require media to leave all equipment behind and use materials provided by the Department of Labor, including DOL-issued paper and writing utensils, with seating arrangements as the DOL sees necessary. Media would need to report using computers and software provided by the DOL, ostensibly preventing premature leaks of confidential information.  However, this system would allow the government to see what reporters are writing as they write.

The Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press quoted Daniel Moss, executive editor for economy and international government at Bloomberg, as testifying: “Under the DOL proposal, the government would own and control the reporters’ notebook. This is an unheard of intrusion of government into one of most cherished freedoms.”

Representatives from press entities and freedom of information advocates spoke out against this move, including Lucy Dalglish, executive director of RCFP. Daglish provided testimony.

“The media takes government interference with its work product very seriously. So does the Constitution.  In fact, the First Amendment obligates the government to allow journalists to operate independently from government control,” Dalglish said in her statement to the committee. “Requiring journalists to draft and publish stories using government-owned computers loaded with government-controlled software simply crosses a line the First Amendment clearly drew to separate the press from the government.” (Read her full testimony.)

According to The Associated Press, the media involved with the hearings said, “progress has been made,” but said little about the meetings with government officials.  The hearing also looked into the  DOL’s accuracy on reporting ‘green jobs.’

(Click here to see the DOL’s full proposal.)

Check out video of the hearing and testimonies, or read transcripts of individual testimonies from:

  • Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • Rob Doherty, General Manager of Reuters News (US)
  • Daniel Moss, Executive Editor for economy and International Government, Bloomberg News
  • Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow, The Manhattan Institute
  • Dr. Keith Hall, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University
  • John Galvin, Acting Commissioner U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Carl Fillichio, Senior Advisor for Communications and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor
  • The Honorable Jane Oates Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor


    Correction [6/8/2012]: Daniel Moss was previously misidentified as “executive director of Bloomberg.”

    Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with SPJ. She recently graduated with a BA in Communications, with a print journalism emphasis, from Brigham Young University. Connect with her via email –  wevans@hq.spj.org –  or on twitter – @whitevs7.

 

 

 

 

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