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FOI FYI: SPJ’s FOI Committee Blog
– Show why FOI matters
– FOI Win in Georgia: Defamation Law Repealed
– The flow of information: Reporting on water in the west

FOI Committee
This committee is the watchdog of press freedoms across the nation. It relies upon a network of volunteers in each state organized under Project Sunshine. These SPJ members are on the front lines for assaults to the First Amendment and when lawmakers attempt to restrict the public's access to documents and the government's business. The committee often is called upon to intervene in instances where the media is restricted.

Freedom of Information Committee Chair

Jonathan Anderson
Public issues investigative reporter
Marshfield News-Herald
Marshfield, Wisc.
Phone: 920-676-5399
Bio (click to expand) picture Jonathan Anderson is a public issues investigative reporter for the Marshfield News-Herald in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Before joining the News-Herald, in 2015, Jonathan was a reporter for a pair of newspapers in northern Wisconsin for nearly two years. He has held internships at the First Amendment Center, Wisconsin Law Journal, Wisconsin Public Radio and WISN-TV, and was also editor in chief of his college newspaper, the UWM Post.

Jonathan is an avid requester of public records, and his work in the FOI arena has also entailed advocacy and research. He has been the plaintiff in two lawsuits challenging improper government secrecy. He helped obtain a legal opinion from the Wisconsin attorney general that found University of Wisconsin System student government groups subject to the state’s open meetings law. His master’s thesis, “Resolving Public Records Disputes in Wisconsin: The Role of the Attorney General's Office,” investigated how the Wisconsin attorney general reviews and sometimes intervenes in access disputes. And he has volunteered for the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

Home > Freedom of Information > Access Across America

Access Across America — Again!

Want free training in accessing public records? In the comfort of your own office?

Here we come!

2012 Tour Stops Announced!

A growing list of 2012 stops, beginning in June, is now available. More stops will be announced shortly, so stay tuned!

Access Across America Blog: Latest Entries

– Walla Walla: FOI on Friday
– Boise: From Zero to Full Speed in Four Days
– AAA in Idaho Falls
– From Newport News….
– A Great Event in Richmond!

Five experts in freedom of information will be traveling the country throughout summer 2012 and we’re soliciting invitations from SPJ pro chapters and newsrooms who would like a two-hour session on accessing public records, including great ideas for record-based stories, effective requests, and how to use tactical strategies to overcome denials and exorbitant copy fees. Are you swamped with added work and feel you don’t have time to do great record-based reporting? Well, we are here to teach you how to do FOI when you are SOL. Or even when you aren’t!

This summer training, funded by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation and The Associated Press, is a follow-up from the 45-day 2010 Access Across America road tour, where SPJ FOI trainer David Cuillier talked with 1,009 people at 56 sessions in 32 states. This time we are dividing the country into five regions, served by an FOI expert in each region. The same personal, on-site training.

No charge to you. All you have to do is show up. We provide the expert and fun.

An early list of 2012 stops, beginning in June, is now available. More stops will be announced shortly, so stay tuned!

The Roving Rabble Rousers

Michael Morisy | Northeast

Michael Morisy is the co-founder of, a freedom of information tool that allows anyone to submit valid freedom of information requests without licking a stamp, suffering legalese or leaving their browser. The site, funded in part by the Sunlight Foundation, has sparked investigations into immigration enforcement, political violence and government spending. Michael is also web producer for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. He has previously written for the New York Daily News, where his reporting was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning series "Forgotten Heroes."

Charles Davis | Southeast

Charles Davis is an associate professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and has been an SPJ newsroom trainer since 2004. Dr. Davis was SPJ’s Freedom of Information Committee chair for five years and is co-author with David Cuillier of “The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records.” He is a winner of SPJ’s Sunshine Award and was named the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Teacher of the Year. Before academia, he worked for newspapers and as a national correspondent for Lafferty Publications, a Dublin-based news wire service for financial publications.

Joey Senat | Midwest

Oklahoma State University associate professor Dr. Joey Senat writes an open government blog, is quoted frequently by the press on FOI and media law issues, and provides a model letter for requesting public records that is widely used in Oklahoma. Senat received the 2007 Opala First Amendment Award and the 2005 Oklahoma SPJ Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment for his work to advance government transparency. He has been published in Quill and the IRE Journal.

Ian Marquand | Northwest

Ian Marquand spent 30 years as a television journalist in Montana, and more than 20 as an officer of the Montana Freedom of Information Hotline. He served for four years as chair (or co-chair) of the Society of Professional Journalists’ national Freedom of Information Commitee, during which he authored SPJ’s “Open Doors” guide to FOI. In 2000, the University of Montana schools of journalism and law presented Ian with the “Montana Free Press Award” and, in 2004, SPJ presented Ian with the Wells Key, the Society’s highest honor.

David Cuillier | Southwest

David Cuillier is secretary-treasurer for SPJ and was the Freedom of Information Committee chairman 2007-2011. Dr. Cuillier conducted the original 45-day Access Across America tour in summer 2010 and has been an SPJ newsroom trainer since 2006. He teaches and researches access to public records, and is co-author with Charles Davis of “The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records.” He is a winner of the SPJ First Amendment Award for his work in FOI, and before academia worked as a newspaper reporter and editor covering government in the Pacific Northwest.

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