What does the Trump administration mean for freedom of information, public records, and general government accountability and transparency? Maybe the news media should shy away from the prediction business based on the not-too-stellar record of poll watching in 2016. No matter who is president, there’s an ever-increasing need for vigilance from journalists to safeguard the values of government transparency and openness underscored by the Freedom of Information Act and all public records laws.
As FOIA turned 50 in 2016, we saw countless stories on the campaign trail and beyond utilizing public records. But that doesn’t mean access to records is an easily won right.
Despite great strides in the past 50 years, the United States still has a long way to go in being a government system — and a society — that truly embraces and enhances the ideals put forth by freedom of information laws. One way to advance that mission is for journalists to continually utilize and fight for public records and transparency in government.
We asked prominent people in the freedom of information and public records fields to share their thoughts on FOI and transparency in the age of Donald Trump. –Scott A. Leadingham, Quill editor
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