The Investigative Reporting Workshop’s Blogs
March 13-19 was Sunshine Week — a nationwide celebration of access to public information. Across the country, the week was marked by panel discussions, workshops and other events about using and understanding the latest developments in freedom-of-information resources. One of those was an event at the University of Missouri in which Charles Lewis, the Workshop's executive editor, argued that government has not become too transparent.
Since 1996 the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has offered a free letter-generating service to provide users with the correct language and structure for FOIA requests. Over the past year the committee looked for ways to expand this tool to better serve reporters. In recognition of the fact that a single investigation can require hundreds of FOIA requests, they sought to make it easier for journalists to track and organize records requests.
“Reporters are always trying to remember where they’ve submitted requests, how much time has passed since they made the request and who they need to follow up with,” said Emily Grannis of the new ifOIA website.
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The biggest surprise of the Barack Obama presidency to me and to many others has been what I have called “the unexpected national security obsessiveness” of his administration. Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice has repeatedly used the draconian 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute journalists’ sources, effectively criminalizing investigative journalism. Or as James Goodale, The New York Times’ lead lawyer during the seminal Pentagon Papers case put it in his recent memoir, “Obama has used the Espionage Act to indict more leakers than any president in the history of this country.” No president’s administration in the past century — indeed, all of them combined — has prosecuted more whistleblowing sources using the Espionage Act than the Obama administration.
After her summer as an intern at the Workshop in 2012 and completing her master's at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Hilary Niles creates her own reality as a freelancer.
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