Posts Tagged ‘Pew Research Center’

Happy FOI-th of July!

This Independence Day marks the 47th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act being signed into federal law, establishing our right to open records and meetings.

FOIA puts power in the hands of the people, ensuring us the information we need to participate in democratic decisions and, when necessary, hold our government accountable.

As Betsy Cushman, president of the League of Women Voters, notes in a July 2 editorial, a Pew Research Center poll shows only 26 percent of Americans surveyed feel they can trust Washington “almost always or most of the time”—among the lowest ratings since the FOIA was established.

But let’s not look at that other 74 percent in fear. Let’s allow our distrust to inspire a healthy skepticism in an age shrouded by secrecy. As citizens are monitored by mass surveillance and reporters are subject to grand scale subpoenas, we need the Freedom of Information Act to uphold the system of checks and balances our Founding Fathers established.

About thirteen years after Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence in 1776, he wrote: “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”

Celebrate FOIA’s 47th year by exercising your right to know and knowing your rights. Here are some FOI resources from SPJ.

Kara Hackett is SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern, a freelance writer and a free press enthusiast. Contact her at or on Twitter: @KaraHackett.

FOI Daily Dose: Poll shows Americans support NSA surveillance but still want answers

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that although 58 percent of Americans support the National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence-gathering program, an even larger majority is still eager for answers.

According to the poll conducted June 12-16 on a national random sample of 1,017 adults, 65 percent want Congress to hold public hearings on the NSA surveillance programs.

The Washington Post analyzed the results June 19, comparing the findings to previous public opinion polls about the NSA surveillance since the programs were unveiled June 6. A CNN/ORC poll on June 17 showed that 66 percent of Americans supported the federal government tracking foreign Internet activity, and yet a Pew Research Center/USA Today poll published the same day found only 48 percent approved of the phone and Internet data collection.

To help clear up confusion about the surveillance, NSA Director Keith Alexander told a House committee on June 18 that the programs helped foil more than 50 terror threats worldwide, including more than 10 in the U.S. Homeland, according to USA Today.

Alexander told lawmakers: “I would much rather be here today debating this than explaining why we were unable to prevent another 9/11” attack.”

Kara Hackett is SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern, a freelance writer and a free press enthusiast. Contact her at or on Twitter: @KaraHackett.


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