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NFOIC Bulletin - October 7, 2020

The NFOIC Bulletin is a brief weekly overview of trending topics about open government, first amendment freedoms, and democracy. If your organization has an upcoming, free event in these areas and would like to include it in the Bulletin, please email details to NFOIC


Here are the newsroom layoffs, furloughs and closures caused by the coronavirus - It’s getting hard to keep track of the bad news about the news right now. But we have to. Here’s Poynter’s attempt to collect the layoffs, furloughs, and closures caused by the coronavirus’ critical blow to the economy and journalism in the United States. In most cases, these entries link to previously reported stories. In some cases, where there are no links, they are relying on tips to help show the full impact of this pandemic. Read More

National Newspaper Week 2020 - October 4-10 - This 80th annual National Newspaper Week is a recognition of the service of newspapers and their employees across North America and is sponsored by Newspaper Association Managers. “America/Canada Needs Journalists” is this year’s theme.  Read More

Gov Tech

Commentary: Why local government needs more technologists - While it is true that many technologists are already volunteering their skills and passion for the public good to try to fix local government from the outside, I believe we need to go further. Both the tech sector and individual technologists can play a more central role in developing the next generation of local government. I say this as someone who left the tech sector to join the local government as an open data manager at the City of Seattle. There I saw firsthand the challenges that state and local governments face, such as a lack of data analytics capacity. I also saw the role that more technologists within the government can play in addressing these issues. Read More

City Officials Share Challenges of Going Virtual - Frequent virtual meetings are a change brought by the coronavirus pandemic that’s likely to stick. Since March, residents who watch their city governments closely have taken a seat in front of their computers to join live meetings instead of attending in person at city hall. But when technology fails, it’s frustrating to residents who consider their city council meetings regular viewing, said James Drinkard, Alpharetta, Ga., assistant city administrator. Read More


Black women legislators are rare in statehouses. This could be the solution. - Statehouses are predominantly White and male-led. One PAC in Washington state wants to change that — and be the model for other legislatures. A small but growing number of political groups around the country are actively trying to increase the number of people of color in elected office, and an even smaller number are exclusively focused on electing Black women. Opportunity PAC appears to be one of only a few devoted almost entirely to statehouse races — and Conrad hopes it can be a model for similar efforts in other states. Read more

America Is Having a Moral Convulsion - American history is driven by periodic moments of moral convulsion. The late Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington noticed that these convulsions seem to hit the United States every 60 years or so: the Revolutionary period of the 1760s and ’70s; the Jacksonian uprising of the 1820s and ’30s; the Progressive Era, which began in the 1890s; and the social-protest movements of the 1960s and early ’70s. These moments share certain features. People feel disgusted by the state of society. Trust in institutions plummets. Moral indignation is widespread. Contempt for established power is intense. Read more

Working for social justice isn’t a ‘distraction’ for mission-focused companies - We’ve seen so much evidence in recent years that consumers and purchasing power gravitate toward brands and companies that articulate what they stand for. No longer is it enough for brands to be likable or just upbeat. Their silence on social injustices is deafening. Their association with individuals who either contribute to or enable racism or oppression of people and groups is enough for customers to think twice about using them. Their public support of activism and human rights either in merchandise or TV advertisements drives up their stock price. As more and more products and services are increasingly commoditized, consumers have sought to align themselves with brands and products that reflect their ethos. Read more


AI Can Detect COVID-19 in the Lungs Like a Virtual Physician, New Study Shows - A University of Central Florida researcher is part of a new study showing that artificial intelligence can be nearly as accurate as a physician in diagnosing COVID-19 in the lungs. The study, recently published in Nature Communications, shows the new technique can also overcome some of the challenges of current testing.Researchers demonstrated that an AI algorithm could be trained to classify COVID-19 pneumonia in computed tomography (CT) scans with up to 90 percent accuracy, as well as correctly identify positive cases 84 percent of the time and negative cases 93 percent of the time. Read more

What If Schools Viewed Outdoor Learning as ‘Plan A’? - Over the summer, photos began to circulate of children, bundled in warm coats, mittens and thick hats, reading books at their desks, outside, in the New York City winter. And eating lunch at their desks, outside, in the New England winter. And in the Chicago one, too. The children were coming of age as a deadly epidemic swept through the U.S., and since learning inside was deemed dubious at best, the classroom was moved outdoors, where group gatherings were considered safe. Read more

Raise the SNAP maximum benefit to reduce food insecurity - Since the COVID-19 pandemic and recession began in the United States, millions of American families have struggled to put food on the table. Food insecurity and economic hardship typically increase in recessions and decrease in economic expansions. Indeed, the loss of a job or income, as well as poor child care arrangements, are associated with the onset of food insecurity. Rates of food insecurity among all households (one quarter) and households with children (one third) remain elevated. And while Pandemic EBT caused a reduction in very low food security among children this past summer –– too many parents report that they do not have sufficient resources to purchase food for their children. Read more


Thursday, October 8, 2020 1:00 pm (ET) The Future of Democracy: Behind the Facebook ad ban - This summer, hundreds of advertisers, nonprofits and individuals began boycotting Facebook advertising as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. On Episode 24 of “The Future of Democracy,” we’ll talk to Rashad Robinson, the architect behind the ad moratorium. He’ll share insights about the campaign and talk about his experience as president of Color of Change, a national organization that builds campaigns advocating for justice for America’s Black community. Click here to register to join the show.

Friday, October 9, 2020, at 1:00 PM (ET), Georgia First Amendment Foundation presents a free virtual training session on how recordings of police activities have become catalysts for change. How does the First Amendment protect citizens' right to record police on the job? What rights do the public and the media have to access the video from officer body cams and other official sources? What are the rules of non-engagement when journalists and citizens record police in action? How do free speech rights come into play in encounters between the public and police? Guest speakers Vic Reynolds, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Sarah Brewerton-Palmer, First Amendment Attorney, Caplan Cobb LLC, Clare Norins, Director, First Amendment Clinic, UGA School of Law, Gerry Weber, First Amendment Attorney, Gerry Weber LLC and Southern Center for Human Rights will share their take on police recordings and First Amendment. Register Here 

Wednesday, October 14 10 AM PT | 12 PM CT | 1 PM ET - How Public Safety Organizations are Actively Addressing the Changing Need for Transparency. Join Microsoft, Veritone & GovQA to learn how public safety organizations are actively addressing the increasing need for public transparency in 2020. With critical incidents on the rise, transparency has become paramount for public safety agencies needing to release more public records than ever before. Eager to provide the public they serve with key insights, law enforcement is leaning on new technologies to securely manage, redact, and release information within days of an event. Register for this comprehensive webinar to hear firsthand from Clark County Sheriff’s Department how the events of 2020 have reshaped the public records and redaction landscape and the tools they have deployed to keep up. Register and more information.


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The National Freedom of Information Coalition is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of state and regional associations representing more than 39 states, commonwealths and the District of Columbia. Through our programs, services, and national member network, NFOIC promotes press freedom, public access, legislative and administrative reforms, and dispute resolution to ensure open, transparent, and accountable state and local governments and public institutions.

NFOIC is located at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and works closely with its neighbor, the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information

Protecting your right to open government
National Freedom of Information Coalition

3208 Weimer Hall
PO Box 118400
University of Florida - College of Journalism and Communications
Gainesville, FL 32611

Office: 352-294-7082
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National Freedom of Information Coalition · 3208 Weimer Hall · P.O Box 118400 · Gainesville, FL 32611-0001 · USA

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