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Related Articles:
Freedom of Information

See archive for more articles

SPJ News: White House to take meeting on government transparency with SPJ-led coalition
Quill: Frack Attack: Fueling Secrecy
Quill: From the President
Quill: It's (Not) Always Sunny in Paradise
Quill: Digital Media Toolbox
Quill: FOI Toolbox
Quill: Freelance Toolbox
SPJ News: SPJ joins amicus brief in NYPD public records case
SPJ News: SPJ joins amicus brief in New Jersey public records case
SPJ News: SPJ joins amicus brief in Texas biker shootout case

Freedom of Information
Covering Prisons
Project Sunshine: Find FOI Help
Accessing Government Records
Shield Law Campaign
FOI Audit Tookit | PDF
Anti-SLAPP: Protect Free Speech
Official Secrets Act bill
FOI Groups
Annual FOI Reports
FOI Committee Roster

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– FOI Win in Georgia: Defamation Law Repealed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 > Resources for Students > Student FOI: Campus Access

Campus Access Center

Students in SPJ News | Essential Tutorials, courtesy of Quill Magazine
Helpful Links | All About FERPA

The Society of Professional Journalists is here to support student journalists nationwide as they begin to mold their careers. Whether it’s a campus chapter, student media outlet or individual, SPJ is here to offer advice, training and up-to-date information on important freedom of information decisions.

Contact your SPJ Campus Board Members

Vice President, Campus Chapter Affairs
Sue Kopen Katcef
Philip Merrill College of Journalism
University of Maryland

Bio (click to expand) Sue Kopen Katcef is an award winning reporter who's currently the Broadcast Bureau Director for the Capital News Service operated by the Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. Sue has been a member of SPJ since 1974 (when it was still Sigma Delta Chi) while a student at the University of Maryland. She is a past president of the Maryland Pro Chapter and a former long-time board member of the Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter. She has previously served on the SPJ national board as a campus adviser at-large and is currently SPJ's National Vice President of Campus Chapter Affairs. Sue has served on SPJ's Awards & Honors Committee for a number of years. As chair of the committee, Sue led the panel in what is now an on-going review of both the MOE and SDX awards to try and contemporize both contests. Sue has submitted MOE entries (on behalf of her students) as well as judged and coordinated (regionally) the Mark of Excellence contest and served as a judge for many years of the Sigma Delta Chi contest.

Campus Advisers

Mike Reilley
Director, Digital Production Bureau
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism
Arizona State University

Becky Tallent, Ed.D.
Associate Professor
School of Journalism and Mass Media
University of Idaho

Bio (click to expand) Rebecca J. “Becky” Tallent is an award-winning journalist and public relations specialist with more than 12 years experience as an energy/environmental and financial journalist plus an additional 16 years experience as a public relations specialist and five years as an educator. She is currently an assistant professor of journalism and mass media at the University of Idaho.

Becky’s experience as a reporter and editor inside Oklahoma was with the Daily Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, Oklahoma Business News Co. (where she was reporter and editor of the Oklahoma Energy/Environment Report) and as editor of the Oklahoma Banker. She has also covered energy and environmental issues for McGraw-Hills News, Inc. of New York (Platt’s Oilgram News, Engineering Week and Green Markets); Reuter’s U.S. Financial, Inc. based in New York; and the Washington, D.C.-based Oil Daily.

As a public relations specialist, Becky has represented the University Hospitals, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and Epworth Villa (a not-for profit retirement community). From 2002-2006, she was a public relations specialist with Evergreen Productions, Inc. of Oklahoma City where she represented the City of Lawton (OK), Tidal School Vineyards and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Her expertise in public relations is writing/publications, working with the news media and crisis communications.

Before Idaho, Becky taught journalism at Bishop McGuinness High School, Southwestern College, the University of Phoenix, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

Some of Becky’s most recent awards include: 2003 Faculty Member of the Year, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; first place, 2001, American Marketer’s Association, Oklahoma City Chapter, Marketing Campaign for Epworth Villa; second place, 2001, Society of Professional Journalists, Oklahoma Chapter, not-for-profit publications (Epworth Villa); first place, 2000, Society of Professional Journalists, not-for-profit publications (The Oklahoma Banker); and the 1999 Award of Merit from the Oklahoma Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators for the Oklahoma Banker.

Becky has been a member of SPJ since 1972 when she joined the University of Central Oklahoma student chapter. She joined the Oklahoma Professional Chapter in 1977 and became a member of the Snake River Chapter in 2006. She has served on numerous local and national committees for SPJ. Becky’s dedication to the Society lies in her belief that service in SPJ is a way to contribute something back to the profession.

Becky earned both her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (1975) and her Master of Education in Journalism (1977) from the University of Central Oklahoma. She earned her Doctorate of Education in Classroom Teaching/Mass Communications from Oklahoma State University in 1995.


Monica Dattage
California State University, Sacramento

Bio (click to expand) Monica Dattage is currently a senior at California State University, Sacramento, where she is the current vice president for the student chapter. She became interested in journalism only a few short years ago when a professor suggested she take photographs for The Telescope, a student-ran newspaper at Palomar Community College. Since then her passion has grown for not just taking photos, but writing as well. Throughout her academic career she has gained exposure to the various branches of journalism finding a true passion in broadcast writing and politics. Upon graduating from Sacramento State, Monica hopes to pursue a career in broadcast journalism and eventually obtain a dual master’s degree in journalism and political science. As a Student Representative Monica hopes to bridge the gap between students and working professionals; bringing students entering into journalism mentors and other resources to be successful in their careers.

Kate Hiller
Ohio University
Bio (click to expand) Kate Hiller is a senior studying journalism and Spanish at Ohio University, set to graduate in December 2015. She is currently working for the Institute for International Journalism (IIJ) at Ohio University as a Projects Coordinator. Her current project includes working with the IIJ and the Young African Leaders' Initiative (YALI) to plan and host "Connect Camps" in various regions of Africa. These camps are funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State. After graduation, Kate hopes to continue her studies in post-conflict media development at Ohio University or another accredited institution.

On this page, you’ll find resources that can help you and your chapter regarding freedom of information news and education.

You also may contact SPJ Headquarters at any time if you have comments, questions or concerns.

Together — students, alumni and professionals alike — we continue the fight to preserve and protect the freedoms granted by the First Amendment and help the public understand those freedoms.


Students in SPJ News

9/19/2015: New York City News Service named the first SPJ MOEy recipient
8/28/2015: J-Team provides intensive training today at University of Iowa in response to college censorship
8/21/2015: SPJ National President Dana Neuts' statement on the passing of Dan Reimold, founder of College Media Matters
8/19/2015: Journalism organizations join forces for “J-Team” response to college censorship
8/19/2015: SPJ introduces the MOEy Award
7/24/2015: The Columbus Dispatch, Student Press Law Center receive Pulliam First Amendment Award
7/24/2015: University of Maryland named SPJ Campus Chapter of the Year
7/23/2015: SPJ honors Julian Hayda with Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award
7/21/2015: Ohio University instructor named outstanding campus adviser

See archive for more articles

Essential Tutorials, courtesy of Quill Magazine

How to Conduct a Campus FOI Audit
FOI audits are great tools to monitor open-records compliance and check weaknesses in your state’s laws. Audits return journalism to its roots by protecting citizens’ rights to freedom of information and keeping government accountable. The purpose of the audit is to test how easily the average citizen can obtain public records. Here is a condensed guide on conducting an audit on your college campus.

FOI Toolbox: Make copies of documents on the cheap
What good is access to government records if it costs as much as a bank buyout to get copies? Too often public agencies charge more than they should for copies of records, sometimes as much as $1 or more per page. That’s just wrong, and in most states it’s illegal. So don’t stand for government gouging. Here are 10 tips for reducing or eliminating those outrageous copy fees.

10 great FOI programs for chapters, newsrooms
Chapters and newsrooms are doing great work in freedom of information, so the FOI Committee decided to share some of its programs with everyone. At the SPJ Web site, you’ll find dozens of ideas for FOI programs suitable for professional chapters, campus chapters or newsrooms. You’ll also find tips for writing about FOI, quotable expert FOI sources and studies, and FOI teaching ideas. Here is a snapshot of 10 program ideas.


Helpful Links

Associated Collegiate Press
Columbia Journalism Review
High School Journalism Initiative
Journalism Association of Community Colleges
National Scholastic Press Association
The Poynter Institute
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Student Press Law Center


All About FERPA
The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act was enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of students and their education records. Unfortunately, school districts across the U.S. have twisted the law to deny records that would have otherwise been accessible. Reporters continue to strive for these records and for accountability within school systems.

We hope these resources help journalists gain access to what would otherwise be kept secret.

Language of the Law: GPO Access / FERPA

Relevant Articles:
The SPJ Guide to FERPA
Quill: FERPA Foibles
SPJ News: Restraining order against Wyoming newspapers is revoked
SPJ News: Columbus Dispatch writers win First Amendment award for reporting on FERPA


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