March 19, 2010

Happy Sunshine Week! Here are investigative resources for journalists and other citizens

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Even though I've been reporting for decades, I always learn something useful during Sunshine Week, the subject of all my posts this week. Well, this year was no different.

One thing I hadn't known about before was the Citizen Journalist's Guide to Open Government, put out by the Knight Citizen News Network.

And, with permission of the Society of Environmental Journalists, I'm reproducing here SEJer Joe Davis's "10 Key Open-Gov Resources for Enviornmental Journalists": 

1. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Publishes a suite of authoritative booklets on journalists' rights of access to information — and practical how-to's on using them most effectively. They offer free legal advice for journos.

2. The Sunlight Foundation. Incites and supports use of digital tools to overcome government efforts to hide the truth about its occasionally sleazy behavior. Tools for all!

3. Society of Professional Journalists' Freedom of Information Committee. Watchdogs press freedom and info-access issues in most of the 50 states. Who's active in your state?

4. National Freedom of Information Coalition. Builds networks of reporters and grass-roots FOI activists in most states. Now has Knight money to help fund FOI court cases.

5. Freedom Forum/First Amendment Center. Funded via the Gannett legacy, the First Amendment Center offers numerous programs and information sources.

6. Federal FOIA Offices. The Freedom of Information Act office at each federal agency is a starting point for specific document requests.

7. Justice Department Office of Information and Privacy. Justice's OIP is the ultimate and authoritative source for legal interpretations of the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.

8. Government Attic. An invaluable trove of lists and documents from federal agencies that you might not otherwise see. Searchable online. Go rummage. You never know what you'll find.

9. Investigative Reporters and Editors. Start by joining IRE. Then you'll have full access to their rich range of tips, tools, and databases — a virtual gumshoe paradise. Home of the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.

10. Center for Responsive Politics. A user-friendly, searchable online data-world about money and politics. Includes more than just Federal Election Commission data — such as Congressional lobbying disclosures. Instant exposé.

 — Robert McClure

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