Columbia, Mo. (June 17, 2010) – The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC), a nonpartisan coalition of open government groups and advocates, announced today that it has hired Ken Bunting as its new, full-time executive director. Bunting will oversee all daily operations of the NFOIC, including fundraising, coalition building, and managing the Knight Freedom of Information Fund, a new initiative created by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support FOI litigation. Bunting will officially assume his new role on July 1, 2010.
“Ken Bunting is a wonderful addition to the NFOIC organization, and we're proud to welcome him to the School of Journalism and the Reynolds Journalism Institute,” said Dean Mills, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in First Amendment and access issues, and his many years of journalism experience make him a great fit here.”
As the first full-time executive director of NFOIC, Bunting will administer funds for the Knight FOI Fund and oversee pass-through grants to state freedom of information groups, work daily to strengthen the work of its member coalitions, coordinate an annual conference, publicize the efforts of the NFOIC and its affiliates, and collaborate with a board of directors to chart the future of the organization.
"Ken Bunting is a passionate leader for the cause of open government, making him ideal to lead the NFOIC," said Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government and president of the NFOIC board of directors. "He has been an advocate at the state level and we know he will use that experience to promote open access nationally. We are very pleased that Ken has accepted this challenge."
Most recently, Bunting was associate publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for five years. Including his tenure as associate publisher, he spent a total of 17 years at the Post-Intelligencer, also holding the positions of executive editor and managing editor. During his tenure as ranking editor, the newspaper and staff won more regional and national awards—including two Pulitzer Prizes—than at any time in its history.
"My wife Juli and I are excited about this new adventure and the opportunity for me to work full-time in an area for which I have long had passion," Bunting said. "I'm thrilled to be joining a great team at NFOIC. The NFOIC and its partners have been in the forefront of advocacy for the people's right to know about their government. The free flow of public information is essential for a self-governing people."
"It is also great to be associated and allied with the nation's premier school of journalism at the University of Missouri, housed at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and supported by another outstanding partner, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation."
Prior to joining the Post-Intelligencer, Bunting was senior editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. During his seven years with the Star-Telegram, he served as city editor, assistant managing editor, deputy managing editor and chief of its state capitol bureau in Austin. He also spent nine years with the Los Angeles Times, where he had a variety of reporting and editing assignments. In his over 30 years of newspaper experience, he also has gathered news, written and edited for the San Antonio (TX) Express-News, the Cincinnati Post, the Sacramento Bee and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
Bunting has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and history from Texas Christian University, and completed the Advanced Executive Program at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business.
He has served on the board of directors of the Washington Coalition for Open Government (a member of NFOIC) and the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships, and was a member of the State of Washington's Public Records Exemptions Accountability ("Sunshine") Committee.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition, supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is a national network of state freedom of information advocates, citizen-driven nonprofit freedom of information organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys. Its mission is to foster government transparency at the state and local level. A unit of the Missouri School of Journalism, the NFOIC is an affiliate of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. NFOIC is based at the University of Missouri, home to the nation’s oldest Freedom of Information Center.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the Foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. In 2009, the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy released its national report. It concluded that information is as vital to the healthy functioning of communities as clear air, safe streets and good schools. For details, see http://www.knightfdn.org/.