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Freedom of Information
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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 > Reporter’s Guide to FERPA

Reporter’s Guide to FERPA
Navigating the Family Educational Rights
and Privacy Act

Ever have a tough time getting public records from schools or universities? We feel your pain and are here to help you. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act has been twisted beyond recognition, keeping school lunch menus, graduation honors and athletic travel records secret. Take back your right to information. This guide was produced in 2010 by the Society of Professional Journalists in conjunction with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation to help journalists and citizens understand their rights to education records and not allow school officials to hide important public information while still protecting legitimate student privacy.

About this project
This guide was produced by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Freedom of Information Committee in 2010 for national Sunshine Week to aid reporters and citizens acquire school records they are legally entitled to while still protecting student privacy. The project was led by Carolyn Carlson, a former national SPJ president and a journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. Contributors included Charles Davis, David Chartrand, Sonny Albarado, and Jodi Cleesattle. Also, some of the information is courtesy of Georgia Public Schools and the Open Records Act: A Citizen’s Guide to Accessing School Records, which was sponsored by the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, Inc., the Georgia Department of Law, the Georgia Parent Teacher Association and the Georgia Press Association. The Georgia First Amendment Foundation received funding for the booklet from the Georgia Bar Foundation and the National Freedom of Information Coalition through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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