Saturday, August 27, 2011

News outlets are less inclined to take legal action for open government, but citizens are becoming more active, national survey finds

"While a lack of resources has made news organizations increasingly less inclined to file freedom-of-information lawsuits, citizens have a growing interest in government transparency and are becoming more active in asserting their right to government information," the Media Law Resource Center and the National Freedom of Information Coalition report after an informal, online survey conducted Aug. 9-15. It confirmed continuation of a trend first noticed in 2009.

"If ordinary citizens are becoming more aware of their access rights, and more assertive regarding them, it is indeed a reason to be gratified," said Ken Bunting, executive director of NFOIC. "However, if news organizations are trending toward being less gung-ho in an area once regarded as a matter of responsibility and stewardship, there is the frightening potential that journalism could suffer, as could the health of our democracy." For the NFOIC release and links to the study documents, click here.

After the 2009 survey, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation created the Knight FOI Fund to pay initial expenses and fees for open-government lawsuits that the fund considers worthwhile.

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