Although the sun is not completely shining on all the records FOI advocates would like to see open, it has not been all rain clouds this year. Many states have had successes in not only opening up more records but in protecting reporters’ rights to confidential sources.
A growing number of state governments are tightening the reins on databases involving concealed weapon permits, making it nearly impossible for reporters to uncover information potentially vital to the public’s interest. Journalists should especially take notice of this issue because experts say the media is partially to blame for the closing of these records.
Donald W. Meyers was trying to earn his degree from Brigham Young University in the 1980s when he came face-to-face with one of America’s greatest fears: identity theft. Collection agencies were writing him, wanting him to pay off the supposed debt he owed.
Keeping FOIA relevant in our technology-friendly society does not end with databases and access to government e-mail. Just five years ago, public officials might have considered their e-mails private. Then along came journalists and other open-records advocates who wanted access to this information.
A Coalition of Journalists for Open Government study released in July revealed that federal government agencies made almost no improvements in 2007 when it came to responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, even though they were given a presidential order to improve services.