The board of directors of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists has approved a grant to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to fund a journalists’ guide to crafting and filing federal Freedom of Information Act appeals.
The guide joins the myriad Reporters Committee publications — all of which are available free online — that help reporters gain access government information. The new FOIA appeals publication will specifically serve as a companion to the Federal Open Government Guide, now in its tenth edition. The appeals guide will pick up the process once a request has been denied: assessing the legitimacy of the denial, weighing the merits of an appeal, how to write an effective appeals letter and, ultimately, determining whether to file a lawsuit.
“This publication is the perfect extension of the Reporters Committee library of resources,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish. “Rather than simply accept a denial, journalists will be able to refer to this guide to help determine whether they should push on with the request — and tell them how to do so. The goal is to diffuse the unfortunately common tactic of knee-jerk agency denial, hoping a requestor without means or experience in appealing denials will simply go away.”
The $13,900 Sigma Delta Chi Foundation grant will be disbursed to the Reporters Committee after Aug. 1. When the guide is complete, it will be posted on the Reporters Committee website, www.rcfp.org.
Since its founding in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation has promoted excellence and ethics in journalism. The Foundation supports the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and serves the professional development needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism. Learn more about Sigma Delta Chi at http://www.spj.org/sdxabout.asp.
Founded in 1970 to combat an increase in subpoenas seeking reporters' confidential sources, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers free legal support to more than 2,000 working journalists and media lawyers each year. It is a leader in the fight against persistent efforts by government officials to impede the release of public information, whether by withholding documents or threatening reporters with jail. In addition to its 24/7 Legal Defense Hotline, the Reporters Committee sets up special event reporters' hotlines, is a party in amicus briefs and statements of support, and it offers challenging fellowships and internships for young lawyers and journalists year-round. For more information, go to www.rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: Lucy A. Dalglish Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org; 703-807-2100
Society of Professional Journalists: Andrew Scott Communications Coordinator ascott@HQ.SPJ.org; 317-927-8000, ext. 215