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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.


Introducing iFOIA

The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation provided funding to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to help update its Open Government Guide. That updated guide led to the development of the RCFP’s new project, iFOIA.

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

FOI FYI:
SPJ’s FOI Committee Blog


Related Articles:
Freedom of Information

See archive for more articles

Quill: FOI Toolbox
SPJ News: Statement by SPJ President Dana Neuts regarding Sen. Rockefeller’s hold on FOIA bill
SPJ News: SPJ FOI Chair Cuillier urges public to contact senators as FOIA bill hits home stretch
SPJ News: Statement by SPJ President Dana Neuts urging lawmakers to vote “no” to Ohio’s proposed HB663
Quill: FOI Toolbox
Quill: Generation J Toolbox
Quill: Ten with Jason Leopold
SPJ News: SPJ mourns loss of journalism great Ben Bradlee
SPJ News: SPJ applauds City of Tupelo, SPJ member, for bringing electronic public records into compliance with law
Quill: From the President


Standing UP for Journalism:
Chronicling SPJ's Mission

FOI FYI Blog:

NorCal SPJ chapter fights for sunshine in San Francisco

Our chapters throughout the country do amazing work to keep government open. Here is a great example, directly in the words of Richard Knee, SPJ NorCal Freedom of Information Committee: SPJ’s Northern California Chapter has for the second time this year advanced freedom of information in San Francisco, convincing a transparency watchdog commission that a member of the Board of Supervisors twice violated the city’s 1999, voter-passed Sunshine Ordinance through tardy, incomplete delivery of requested public documents to a co-chair of SPJ NorCal’s Freedom of Information Committee. >Continue reading NorCal SPJ chapter fights for sunshine in San Francisco

More from FOI FYI:
– NorCal SPJ chapter fights for sunshine in San Francisco
– Ask an expert: How to appeal a FOIA rejection
– Contact your senator today to pass FOIA fixes!
– Must read FOI stories – 7/25/14
– Must read FOI stories – 7/18/14

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


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