Friday, June 07, 2002

sunshine sunday

The Columbia Journalism Review posted an online report a couple of months back called The FOIA Fight. The essay describes the importance of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to newspapers, and how information that was once available under FOIA is becoming harder to attain since September 11th. One source of increased limits under the Act is probably the result of a memo issued by John Ashcroft in October that rephrased federal government FOIA policies. States appear to be following the federal example in seeking greater secrecy. Journalists at a March conference in Philadelphia reported that more and more FOIA requests are being refused, and that a number of the refusals involved subjects which they wouldn't expect to be denied, even with heightened concerns regarding terrorism.

In Florida, the papers joined together to take a stand on a day nicknamed "Sunshine Sunday." Twenty-five Florida newspapers published editorials on the topic that day, and ran a number of additional stories on the subject. Taking it even one step further, the Orlando Sentinel also placed a small sun logo at the top of each story that benefited from use of the FOIA. It would be great if newspapers from other states would consider something similar.

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