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SPJ Board of Directors Meeting: Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, Noon ET

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Home > Freedom of Information > Sunshine Week > Quotable FOI Experts

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Your right to know  •  March 15-21, 2020

Quotable FOI Experts

Need a quote on deadline for a story about a closed meeting or records request denial? Nobody is around to speak out against the secrecy? No problem! Talk to FOI experts to get their take on things, add depth to your story, and get no-holds-barred quotes. You might not be able call your government leaders secret, fascist SOBs, but these folks just might!

Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week Toolkit [sunshineweek.org]
Sunshine Week website [sunshineweek.org]
Chapter FOI program ideas
Campus FOI resources
FOI activities for newsrooms
Writing about FOI
Curriculum and classroom ideas for teachers
FOI resources

SPJ and the Government Accountability Project have teamed up with several other whistleblowing and media organizations to inform journalists on how they can safely work with whistleblowers, and have created a comprehensive case for why those brave workers who risk everything should be praised and better protected.

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. To learn more, 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.

SPJ FOI Committee members

SPJ's FOI committee members are ready and willing to talk to you about your problem and provide (non-legal) advice and quotes. Check out the committee contact information here. Also, SPJ sometimes issues letters on behalf of the SPJ president in support of journalists for especially egregious cases.

Your state SPJ sunshine chair

Check with your state SPJ sunshine chair, who should be able to help you or send you to someone else who can. The list is posted on the SPJ website.

Your state freedom of information coalition leaders

The National Freedom of Information Coalition, based out of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, coordinates coalitions in nearly every state. To find your state’s coalition contact information, go here. Also, check out the list of FOI groups compiled by SPJ.

Your state press association

Directors of state press associations often know more about access in your state than anyone else, and they are passionate about serving the public’s interest. For a press association in your state, check out this online directory of state associations.

Campus access

The Student Press Law Center advocates for campus press access to records and meetings. Contact the center for assistance, free legal advice and a quote from its director. Also, check out their helpful guides on accessing campus crime information.

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

This group fights hard for access and reporter rights. Contact them to let them know about your problem or get a quote. Also, if you go to the Open Government Guide for your state, read about your public records and meetings laws and then contact the expert who wrote the explanation and summary for the guide.

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

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