Society of Professional Journalists
Improving and protecting journalism since 1909

Advertise with SPJ
— ADVERTISEMENT —
Advertise with SPJ
7
Explore SPJ FOI
– FOI A-Z Guides for: Students | Pros
FOIA: It's always there
Meet the Committee
FOI Committee Blog
Related News and Articles

Home > Freedom of Information

SPJ Missions
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.


Rise Up for Risen! Raise the Shield!

It’s 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.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia provide journalists with a “reporter’s 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. It’s 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.

Legal Defense Fund: Request Limit Raised to $5,000

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.

More information
How to request an LDF grant
LDF in action

Project Sunshine

Project Sunshine is most important and visible to the people who need it the most: working reporters and editors.

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.

FOI FYI:
SPJ’s FOI Committee Blog


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


Standing UP for Journalism:
Chronicling SPJ's Mission

FOI FYI Blog:

Must read FOI stories – 7/25/14

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

Reporter’s Guide to FERPA

Ever have a tough time getting public records from schools or universities? We feel your pain and are here to help you.

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.

Find FOI near you

Get in touch with the Sunshine chair or chairs in your state and find FOI Centers, quotable sources, resources and more.

Get in touch with the Sunshine chair or chairs in your state and find FOI Centers, quotable sources, resources and more.

Related Links:
Project Sunshine
SPJ Local Connection: Find SPJ leaders in your area
FOI Committee Blog
More FOI Resources

FOI step-by-step guides

If you're unfamiliar with FOIA laws or just need some guidance, we can help.

FOI for students
FOI for pros

Unfamiliar with FOI laws? Need help submitting a records request? Request denied and don’t 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


— ADVERTISEMENT —
Advertise with SPJ

Copyright © 1996-2014 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789

Contact SPJ Headquarters
Employment Opportunities
Advertise with SPJ