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Related Articles:
Freedom of Information

See archive for more articles

SPJ News: SPJ statement about alleged execution of American photojournalist James Foley
SPJ News: Journalism, science groups decry EPA move to muzzle national science advisers
SPJ News: Two organizations, two individuals honored by SPJ with Sunshine Award
SPJ News: Letter urges President Obama to be more transparent
SPJ News: More than 40 journalism groups urge president to stop excessive controls on public information
Quill: FOI Toolbox
SPJ News: SPJ calls for journalist protections in the Ukraine
SPJ News: SPJ opposes restrictions on intelligence employees speaking to journalists
Quill: FOI Toolbox
SPJ News: SPJ surveys: Reporters say PIO controls getting worse

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
– Must read FOI stories – 7/25/14
– Must read FOI stories – 7/18/14
– FOIA should be proactive, not reactive

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

Linda Petersen
Managing Editor
The Valley Journals
801-254-5974 X 17
Bio (click to expand) picture Linda Petersen is the managing editor of The Valley Journals, a group of 15 free, total market coverage, monthly community papers in the Salt Lake Valley, Utah.

She is president of the Utah Foundation for Open Government, a citizen coalition that works to educate and advocate for open government.

A past president of the Utah Headliners pro chapter, she is currently the chapter’s FOI officer and treasurer.

For her open government advocacy, she has received the Utah Press Association John E. Jones Award, the Utah Headliners Clifford P. Cheney Service to Journalism Award and the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Chapter Member Award.

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 301-405-7526 Twitter

Campus Advisers At-Large
Kym Fox
Texas State University
601 University Dr.
San Marcos, TX 78666
(512) 245-3484

Bio (click to expand) Kym Fox joined SPJ while an undergrad at Arizona State University in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. She has been president of the San Antonio Pro Chapter and is currently the co-adviser to the Texas State University student chapter. Fox spent the first 20 something years of her career as a reporter and editor, first at the Mesa Tribune, a 40,000 daily in a suburb of Phoenix, and then 18 years at the San Antonio Express-News. She was the deputy metro editor when she left the Express-News to take to the classroom at Texas State. Most of her career, she spent covering courts and legal affairs, thus her affinity for Freedom of Information projects. Over the years she has covered everything from high school sports to George H.W Bush signing NAFTA. She has interviewed the Queen of England and Michael Jackson, though not at the same time. Along with her B.S. in journalism, she earned an M.A. in communications from the University of the Incarnate Word while an editor at the Express-News. At Texas State she is a senior lecturer and coordinator of the journalism sequence. She teaches a variety of writing classes as well as multimedia journalism. Her take on the future of journalism: “Newspapers are NOT dying. They are evolving.” Find her on Twitter @kymfox.

Becky Tallent, Ed.D.
Assistant 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.

Campus Representatives
Lindsey Cook
University of Georgia

Brett Hall
University of Maryland

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

8/25/2014: SPJ announces outstanding campus chapter regional honorees
7/30/2014: SPJ honors Lucy Dieckhaus with Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award
5/21/2014: SPJ calls on Pennsylvania school district to restructure high school publications policy
5/6/2014: SPJ announces national Mark of Excellence Award winners
5/5/2014: Region 10 Mark of Excellence Awards winners announced in Portland, Ore.
4/28/2014: Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards winners announced in Boston
4/28/2014: Region 7 Mark of Excellence Awards winners announced in Overland Park, Kan.
4/14/2014: Region 12 Mark of Excellence Awards winners announced in Fayetteville, Ark.
4/14/2014: Region 5 Mark of Excellence Awards winners announced in Chicago

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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