If you are trying to keep track of what’s going on behind the scenes at your state government and the government is sitting on documents you want to get a look at, there may be a new way to bring them into the light of day – the Knight FOI Fund will help kick off lawsuits to free the information.
The Knight Foundation is creating the fund by giving $2M to the National Freedom of Information Coalition. What it does is cover court costs, filing and deposition fees to get an FOI case started – you have to provide your own attorney who is willing to take on the case on a pro bono basis.
“Media companies have for generations taken on the lion’s share of the legal work surrounding freedom of information,” said Eric Newton, Knight Foundation Vice President for Journalism Programs. “But as media economics restructure, new approaches are needed. The National Freedom of Information Coalition is in a position to seed and lead new approaches.”
Knight has found via research that the number of FOIA requests has been diminishing as media economic woes increase, and is kicking off this program in an effort to help the press continue its job as a key government watchdog.
RBR-TVBR observation: If you have a roster of attorneys your station is friendly with, or can become friendly with, this could be an excellent journalistic tool – and the results of such an FOI expedition would be an excellent thing to post in your public file.