Program addresses media access

June 3, 2010
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IL staff reporter Rebecca Berfanger wrote this post.

Here at Indiana Lawyer it usually isn’t too difficult to get information for articles. While that’s not always the case, for the most part our sources are our readers and subscribers. So I like to think they understand that by helping IL reporters their information will be treated fairly and accurately. In fact, sometimes I’m still surprised how much information attorneys are willing to share with me on some stories. It’s also a pleasant surprise that many sources are willing to go the extra mile to share information, including a cell phone number to reach them when they’re out of the office, or an e-mail sent long after regular business hours are over.

But not every bit of information is easy to find, and we’re not naïve in thinking that every journalist has it as easy as we often do when it comes to information gathering.

To explain what journalists have to overcome, Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington, with support from the I.U. School of Journalism, WTIU and Elon University has put together a new DVD: “Access Denied: Navigating the Legal Challenges to Newsgathering.” It features a round-table discussion of scholars, journalists, and attorneys on some of the issues journalists face when trying to access information that prior to 9/11 was thought of as public and accessible.

The program will also air on Bloomington PBS affiliate WTIU, which is also available to DirecTV and Dish Network subscribers with the Indianapolis local stations package. The first part was broadcast today at 1 p.m., and will again be aired June 10 at 9 p.m., and June 20 at 4 p.m. The second part will air June 10 at 1 p.m., June 17 at 9 p.m., and June 20 at 5 p.m.

“New privacy rights, restrictions on federal and state freedom of information laws, secret judicial dockets and the closure of traditionally public records are making information harder to access in both the public and private sectors,” professor Fred H. Cate, who moderated the forum, said in a news release.

Panelists include David Cuillier, a former reporter and editor and current assistant professor in the University of Arizona School of Journalism and the Freedom of Information Committee chairman for the Society of Professional Journalists; Stephen Key, a former journalist who is general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, which happens to be in the same building as Indiana Lawyer’s offices; Jane E. Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law and a faculty member at the University of Minnesota; Toni Locy, the Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Legal Reporting at Washington & Lee University and a former reporter for the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Associated Press; and Dennis R. Ryerson, editor and vice president of The Indianapolis Star.

“Every communication and journalism school in the United States, every law school offering media and communications law courses, every state media association, and every state open records or public access group,” will receive a copy of the DVD, according to the release. There will also be a discussion guide available online.
 

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