Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Foundation gives $2 million for open-records battles

Battles for freedom of information often stop for lack of financial ammunition. Now help may be available, thanks to a three-year, $2 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to the National Freedom of Information Coalition.

The grant will create the Knight FOI Fund, which "will fund up-front costs such as court costs, filing fees, depositions and initial consultation fees, if attorneys are willing to take cases that otherwise would go unfiled," NFOIC announced. The grant application was prompted by an NFOIC survey that found almost 80 percent of its members' lawsuits to open public records in their states had become less numerous, and 60 percent said it had dropped dramatically. And 85 percent predicted that FOI litigation would drop dramatically over the next three years. NFOIC blamed "the economic crisis and the evolution of the news media" and cited several specific examples in its release.

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