Requesting records from a university can be like slamming against a brick wall, Jessica McBride tells her students — but don’t expect a helmet. McBride, a veteran journalist from Wisconsin, doesn’t sugarcoat investigative reporting for her students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Hopes for a more transparent Washington are beginning to fade, a consequence of President Barack Obama’s perceived hesitation to follow through with promises made during his campaign and on his first full day in office. But journalists and open government proponents aren’t ready to give up yet.
While the economic meltdown has proven painful for journalists nationwide, the sting might be felt more acutely in freedom of information fights, where news outlets are spending less on investigative projects. Those who know the Freedom of Information Act best say there has been a steep plunge not only in the number of requests being made, but also in the number of lawsuits filed, though no national statistics are available.