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Home > SPJ News > SPJ applauds President Obama for recognizing importance of open government

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SPJ applauds President Obama for recognizing importance of open government


1/22/2009



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For Immediate Release:
1/22/09

Contact:
Dave Aeikens, SPJ President, (320) 255-8744,
daeikens@stcloud.gannett.com
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 211, sleadingham@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists, the largest and most broad-based journalism advocacy organization in the country, commend President Barack Obama for indicating his commitment to open government.

Obama said Wednesday that he wants to change the way the Freedom of Information Act is interpreted by the government. Rather than acting hostile toward requests for information, Obama said officials in charge of fulfilling records requests should side with making information public. Historically, government officials have sought legal loopholes to keep information private.

“This is a good first step to improve access to government documents,” said SPJ President Dave Aeikens. “We are pleased to hear the president say that transparency in government is important because it does lead to accountability.”

As a journalism advocacy organization, SPJ is particularly happy about this announcement since so many journalists rely on the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to information that might otherwise never come to light.

“It’s a good day for access to information,” said Dave Cuillier, SPJ Freedom of Information Committee chairman. “The details are yet to be worked out, but now federal employees must err on the side of openness, and I’m hopeful that will result in shorter waits, fewer public records denials and better government accountability.”

Although the announcement is a positive step for access to public information, Aeikens recommended restraint in lauding its effects.

“We will wait to see how this actually plays out before getting too excited, but this is a great start,” he said.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well- informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.

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