Testimony: Reinvigorating freedom of information for the digital age

Among the journalism experts testifying before the U.S. Senate last week was David Cuillier, head of the UA journalism school and president of the Society of Professional Journalists, who spoke about the importance of open government and freedom of information in advance of Sunshine Week. Here is his statement, as prepared for delivery, made on behalf of the Sunshine in Government Initiative:

I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of the Sunshine in Government Initiative (SGI) and as president of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), founded in 1909 as the most broad-based journalism organization in the nation, currently representing 8,000 members…

But I'm afraid that today I must say FOIA is in desperate need of significant fixes. It is a broken shell of what it once was, and what it was intended to be. I have never seen journalists so frustrated, cynical, and angry when it comes to accessing federal records. And for good reason. Today I will lay out some of the research that demonstrates the increased secrecy in this nation and problems with FOIA. I don't think I am exaggerating when I say we are approaching a crisis when it comes to access to information. I cannot emphasize enough the urgency of the situation. I also will provide some suggestions for how we can turn this around. It is possible to find common solutions that serve requesters and agencies, and most importantly, help citizens build stronger government and stronger communities. Continue>>>