Tip: Press the ESC key to instantly call up a feed containing all the newest SPJ news and updates to our social channels.
For more than 100 years the Society of Professional Journalists has been dedicated to encouraging a climate in which journalism can be practiced more freely and fully, stimulating high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism and perpetuating a free press.
We invite you to join us today!
Since its founding in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation has promoted excellence and ethics in journalism. The SDX Foundation is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization that supports the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and serves the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism.
Excellence in Journalism is the national journalism conference of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. Join us in September in Nashville for training, networking, workshops and more!
We invite you to join us today!
Home > Freedom of Information
Freedom of Information
SPJ's Freedom of Information 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.
Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia provide journalists with a reporters privilege, protecting them if a state government seeks to make him or her reveal confidential information, including the identity of a source. Some states have statutes, known as shield laws, and some provide the protection through case law.
There is absolutely no protection at the federal level. Its time to pass a federal shield law.
Find out more including how you can help us right now to raise the shield by visiting our shield law page.
The Society's Legal Defense Fund provides journalists with legal or direct financial assistance. SPJ collects and distributes contributions for aiding journalists in defending the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The Society's Legal Defense Fund is a unique account that can be tapped for providing journalists with legal or direct financial assistance. Application to the fund is approved by either a small committee or the national board, depending on the level of assistance sought. The committee works throughout the year raising funds for LDF.
The primary role of the Legal Defense Fund is to initiate and support litigation that enforces public access to government records and proceedings, which can be the most expensive way to defend the First Amendment. The fund can also be a source of support for FOI hotlines, coalitions and newsletters, as well as for legislative lobbying activities aimed at enforcing public access to government records and proceedings.
How to request an LDF grant
LDF in action
Project Sunshine is most important and visible to the people who need it the most: working reporters and editors. Project Sunshine focuses the attention of SPJ chapters and leaders on Freedom of Information problems, issues, needs and solutions at the local, chapter and state level. State sunshine chairs also are leaders in national access debates.
SPJs FOI Committee Blog
Freedom of Information
See archive for more articles
– SPJ News: SPJ applauds City of Tupelo, SPJ member, for bringing electronic public records into compliance with law
– Quill: From the President
– 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
Standing UP for Journalism:
Chronicling SPJ's Mission
Every week I do a roundup of the freedom of information stories around the Web. If you have an FOI story you want to share, send me an email or tweet me.
TOP MUST READ: How an activist journalist’s commitment to a poor Chicago community led to a big FOIA win.
FOIA requests to Federal Election Commission about the Internal Revenue Service Tea Party targeting scandal results in backlogs. What’s more, IRS emails reveal huge loophole in federal open-records practices
Speaking of which: Want public documents from the IRS? >Continue reading Must read FOI stories – 7/25/14
More from FOI FYI:
– Must read FOI stories – 7/25/14
– Must read FOI stories – 7/18/14
– FOIA should be proactive, not reactive
– Must read FOI stories – 7/11/14
– Must read FOI stories – 7/07/14
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 with this guide, produced by the Society of Professional Journalists in conjunction with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.
The Society of Professional Journalists is here to support student journalists nationwide as they begin to mold their careers. Whether its 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.
Follow this link for resources that can help you and your chapter regarding freedom of information news and education.
Get in touch with the Sunshine chair or chairs in your state and find FOI Centers, quotable sources, resources and more.
SPJ Local Connection: Find SPJ leaders in your area
FOI Committee Blog
More FOI Resources
Unfamiliar with FOI laws? Need help submitting a records request? Request denied and dont know what to do now? Just overwhelmed in general and need a place to start?
The Society of Professional Journalists seeks to maintain constant vigilance in protecting the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press and encouraging a climate in which journalism can be practiced freely. If you're unfamiliar with the laws or just need some guidance, these guides for pros and students can help.
FOI for students: A step-by-step guide
FOI for pros: A step-by-step guide
Updated for 2012: Restrictive prison policies continue to be an issue for journalists. SPJ is working to keep prisons accessible, and has developed this state-by-state resource to assist journalists with access and coverage.
Downloadable State-by-State Access Policies
State-by-State Contact Information
Transparency in process
Related: Behind the wall: Tips on prison reporting [Quill, July/August 2012]