NEFAC Open Government News for Novermber

From New England First Amendment Coalition: The New England Fist Amendment Coalition published its NEFAC Report for November 2013. In this issue: The Diminishing Public View, Barge? What Barge!? Oh, That Barge! Indiegogo Campaign Underway to Fund New England Fist Amendment Institute, and more.

The Diminishing Public View

By Rosanna Cavanagh

Have you noticed lately that it seems we are taking a trip down the rabbit hole when it comes to citizen privacy versus the public’s right to know? The new norm has become that we citizens have no reasonable expectation of privacy (witness the NSA’s amassing of warehouses of information about us) but the government that we elect and support with our tax dollars has every expectation of privacy and shutting the public out has become the new norm (see the recent report by the international group, the Committee to Protect Journalists). Is this the way a democratic society is supposed to function or have we somehow landed in Alice in Wonderland where everything is flabberghastingly backwards? Shouldn’t private citizens have some legitimate expectation of privacy and the government behave in a more open and transparent way?

New England First Amendment Coalition joined 38 other groups, including The Associated Press and the White House News Photographers Association, in the latest challenge to this disturbing trend of the diminishing public view, calling on the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, to improve their policy towards photojournalists who are continually being denied access to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing seemingly official functions at the White House. “As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the executive Branch of government,” the letter protests. Meanwhile, the White House has taken to releasing its own photographs of the “private” events on social media, undercutting the contention that the event should be deemed private after all.

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The New England First Amendment Coalition is a member of NFOIC. –eds