Four state heroes to be inducted
into Open Government Hall of Fame
Four “Heroes of the 50 States,” representing Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, will be inducted Sept. 30 into the National Freedom of Information Coalition’s State Open Government Hall of Fame, as the Class of 2021. The inductees have backgrounds in law, journalism, and academia.
The 2021 inductees are:
• Barbara Petersen, of Florida.
• Jane Briggs-Bunting, of Michigan.
• Craig Staudenmaier, of Pennsylvania.
• Bill Lueders, of Wisconsin.
Guest Speaker Sen. Patrick Leahy shares his insights on the principles and future of FOI.
What the Pandemic Has Taught Us — Hosted by Tom Verdin, of the Associated Press; with Gunita Singh, of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; and David Snyder, of the First Amendment Coalition.
... and these sessions announced earlier
Data Deserts: How to Close Gaps in Minority, Rural, and Tribal Communities — Hosted by Daniel Delgado, of The Brechner Center and NFOIC, with journalists Sara Sneath, Sunnie Clahchischiligi and Jourdan Bennett-Begaye.
Secrecy at Universities: How Do They Slide Under the Radar, and What Can be Done? — Hosted by Sara Ganim, of the "Why Don't We Know?" podcast; with Andy Thomason, of the Chronicle of Higher Education; Daniel Libit, of Sportico; and Miranda Spivack, independent journalist.
Strategies for Improving FOIA Responses, Without Litigation — Hosted by Grace Cheng, of Thomson Reuters; with James Holzer, of the Department of Homeland Security; Michael Morisy, of MuckRock; Michael Ravnitzky, independent researcher; and Colleen Murphy, of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission.
Accessing Police Misconduct Records — Hosted by Freddy Martinez, of Open the Government; with Rajiv Sinclair, of Public Data Works; Ayyub Ibrahim, of Innocence Project New Orleans; and Sam Stecklow, of the Invisible Institute.
How Can More Informed and Diverse Public Engagement with Government Foster Increased FOI Requests? — Hosted by Valerie Lemmie, of the Kettering Foundation; with Luke H. Britt, Indiana's public access counselor; Amanda Kastl, countywide FOIA officer of Fairfax County, Virginia; Martin G. Reynolds, of the Maynard Institute; and Tricia Thomas, of PublicInput.com.
Seeing FOI Through Millennial and Gen Z Eyes — With Nabiha Syed, of The Markup; Lam Vo, data journalist; Ava Lubell, journalism attorney; and Azmat Khan, investigative reporter.
Seeing FOI Through BIPOC Eyes — With Melissa Wasser and Lance Sims, of the Project on Government Oversight; Gunita Singh, of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; and Mia Woodard, of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Saving the Freedom of Information Act: A Discussion with Author Margaret Kwoka — Kwoka, the Lawrence Herman Professor in Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, will be hosted by Mark Horvit, director of the State Government Reporting Program at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Winners of research competition to present findings
Five research papers have been accepted to the third annual National Freedom of Information Coalition FOI research competition, to be presented online Sept. 28, 2021, at the FOI Summit.
In all, seven one-page proposals were entered and five selected through double-blind peer review for final consideration. Then, a team of eight expert judges rated the full manuscripts based on importance, relevance to practitioners, and strength of methodology. Three of the papers earned cash prizes for excellence, of $500, $300 and $200. Top papers are guaranteed publication in the University of Florida’s Journal of Civic Information, which welcomes submissions from all researchers.
Founder of Wisconsin group saw FOI
as ‘a guarantee for the rights of people’
Robert H. (Bob) Wills, longtime editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel and founder of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, died July 22, 2021, in Madison, Wisconsin, at age 95, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“The role of the media is that of watchdog of government for the public. It follows that the guarantee of freedom of information for the media really is a guarantee for the rights of people,” said Wills in his capacity as president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. Wills served as the council’s first president from 1979 to 1986.
His sons suggested memorial contributions to the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, which is a member of the National Freedom of Information Coalition.
NFOIC members identified at least 60 policy priorities, when asked by email for examples. Because most NFOIC member groups are 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, they are limited in terms of directly lobbying state legislatures.
But they advocate for policies and laws through activities that include providing media interviews and legislative testimony; training and speaking about FOI matters; and publishing FAQs, op-eds, newsletters, sample FOI letters, white papers and full texts of laws.