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Project Sunshine
A Winning Strategy

Freedom of Information
Covering Prisons
Project Sunshine: Find FOI Help
Accessing Government Records
Shield Law Campaign
FOI Audit Tookit | PDF
Anti-SLAPP: Protect Free Speech
Official Secrets Act bill
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FOI FYI: SPJ’s FOI Committee Blog
Show why FOI matters
FOI Win in Georgia: Defamation Law Repealed
The flow of information: Reporting on water in the west

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 > Sunshine Week > FOI Resources

Sunshine Week Logo
Your right to know  •  March 15-21, 2015

FOI Resources

Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week website
Chapter FOI program ideas
Campus FOI resources
FOI activities for newsrooms
Writing about FOI
Quotable expert sources
Curriculum and classroom ideas for teachers
FOI resources
2014 resources: New studies and more
Sunshine Week Logos

SPJ's Black Hole Award: The Society of Professional Journalists launched the Black Hole Award in order to highlight the most heinous violations of the public’s right to know. By exposing examples of unnecessary and harmful secrecy, we hope to educate the public to their rights and hold government accountable. In the past, this award has been given annually. This year, the Freedom of Information committee adapted the rules so that the Black Hole Award is given on an as-needed basis. To view past winners, visit the Black Hole Award web page.

Reporter’s Guide to FERPA: Navigating the Family Education 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 Education 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.

Society of Professional Journalists

Sunshine Chair in your state
David Cuillier, FOI Committee chairman, 520-626-9694
Open Doors publication guide to access

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Reports and tips regarding access, including a guide to using FOIA and a state-by-state explanation of access laws.
Online FOIA and state request letter generators

Student Press Law Center

Online state records request letter generator and guides to campus records

Coalition of Journalists for Open Government

Tracks issues regarding access issues

Citizen Access Project

State-by-state comparison and ratings of access laws

National Freedom of Information Coalition

Contact coalitions in your state
Also, see

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE)

— Keyword searchable morgue of 23,000 investigative stories and 2,000 tip sheets
— Hundreds of FOIA requests that have been filed
— Cheap access to dozens of federal databases
website (Membership required for full use of site)

The Associated Press FOI page

Find news and issues regarding FOI at this website updated by The Associated Press.

This non-profit group, represented by a variety of organizations including SPJ, has current news and reports on FOI. This group is particularly good at keeping up on federal access issues.

The National Security Archive

This institute separate from government acquires and posts a variety of interesting government documents. Check it out for great story ideas.

Government Attic

This site launched in 2007 gathers a variety of interesting federal records and posts them online, mainly as pdf files, for people to view and use as they like. Great story ideas.

Freedom of Information Center

This center at the University of Missouri School of Journalism provides a ton of information about access to public records laws and access audits.

OMB Watch

This group fights for open government information for citizens, posting news and providing sources and studies on freedom of information. Check it out.

websites with great document-driven ideas you can use in your own community

SPJ Open Doors, records A-Z
IRE Extra! Extra! daily stories
Society of Environmental Journalists story archive
Center for Investigative Reporting story blog
iDig Answers “hit records”
Google News Alerts (Go to Google News, click on “News Alerts”, then set up alerts with keywords such as “public records request” and “freedom of information” and Google will send you links to stories that contain those keywords).

Click here to contact the Project Sunshine Chair in your state.

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