Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Zambia looks to Kentucky for help in passing a Freedom of Information Act

Kentucky’s Open Records Act "may serve as a model for one being drafted in Zambia, a longstanding democracy in Southern Africa," University of Kentucky journalism professor Kakie Urch reports on bluecoast live, the blog she runs for UK students' multimedia projects.

Eight Zambians interested in freedom of information visited Frankfort Monday as part of a State Department-sponsored trip to the U.S. On Friday, they had meetings in Louisville, where they were based during their time in Kentucky. Their guide Monday was Al Cross, director of the UK journalism school's Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, who has traveled twice to Zambia to help journalists there.

Monday's first meeting was at the attorney general's office, where Assistant Attorney General Amye Bensenhaver, far right in photo, explained the office's role in open-meetings and open-records appeals. John Nelson, editor of the Advocate-Messenger in Danville and The Winchester Sun, is shown talking about the statewide open-records audit conducted when he was KPA president and the special section about the audit and other open-government topics that was inserted into all Kentucky newspapers. David Thompson, executive director of the Kentucky Press Association and the longest-tenured state press group head in the U.S., talked about the group's open-government work and other newspaper issues. He also took the photo above and posted an item on the KPA blog.

Dr. Mike Farrell, associate professor of journalism at UK, talked about open-government issues and the work of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, which he directs (and which publishes the KOG Blog). UK assistant professor Kakie Urch discussed the coming opportunities in digital media in Africa and accompanied the group on visits to the House budget committee and the Tobacco Settlement Oversight Committee, where they posed for a picture with the committee.
Between meetings the group encountered and spoke briefly with Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson and Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader, the longest-tenured journalist in Frankfort. The final stops at the state Capitol were in the Senate and House, where the group was recognized with floor privileges and a legislative citation, respectively. They and Profs. Cross and Urch posed for a photo with Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, who was governor when the Open Records Act was passed in 1976 and lieutenant governor (a job that then included presiding over the Senate) when the Open Meetings Act was passed in 1974.
Left to right: Al Cross, Kakie Urch, Morden Mayembe (FOIA task team, Ministry of Information), Donte Taylor (U.S. Department of State), Anthony Mukwita (editor/deputy managing director, Zambia Daily Mail), Julian Carroll, Suzen Kantantamalundu (research and planning director, Ministry of Home Affairs), Elizabeth Chanda (communications lecturer, University of Zambia), James Banda (president, Law Association of Zambia), Masuzyo Ndhlovu (public relations officer, Zambia National Broadcasting Corp.), Belina Musopelo (legislative drafter, Ministry of Justice), Daniel Sikazwe (chair, Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zambia), Concepcion Vasquez (State Department).

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