National Freedom of Information Coalition

“The National Freedom of Information Coalition protects our right to open government. Our mission is to make sure state and local governments and public institutions have laws, policies and procedures to facilitate the public’s access to their records and proceedings.

NFOIC exercises advocacy, education and resolve. We are keenly aware of the challenges to access information in an increasingly digital world.

We are a nonpartisan alliance of state & regional affiliates promoting collaboration, education & advocacy for open government, transparency & freedom of information. Our members include citizen-driven nonprofit FOI organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys….”

Federal prisons abruptly cancel policy that made it harder, costlier for inmates to get books – The Washington Post

“Federal prison officials abruptly reversed a controversial policy Thursday that had made it harder and more expensive for thousands of inmates to receive books by banning direct delivery through the mail from publishers, bookstores and book clubs.

The restrictions were already in place in facilities in Virginia and California and were set to start this month at a prison in Florida.

Under the rules, inmates in at least four facilities were required to order books only through a prison-approved vendor and, at three of the prisons, to pay an extra 30 percent markup.

The reversal came after two days’ of inquiries from The Washington Post asking about the vendor, the markup and the rationale for the restriction.

Prison officials said in an email Thursday that the bureau had rescinded the memos and will review the policy to “ensure we strike the right balance between maintaining the safety and security of our institutions and inmate access to correspondence and reading materials.” …”

Federal prisons abruptly cancel policy that made it harder, costlier for inmates to get books – The Washington Post

“Federal prison officials abruptly reversed a controversial policy Thursday that had made it harder and more expensive for thousands of inmates to receive books by banning direct delivery through the mail from publishers, bookstores and book clubs.

The restrictions were already in place in facilities in Virginia and California and were set to start this month at a prison in Florida.

Under the rules, inmates in at least four facilities were required to order books only through a prison-approved vendor and, at three of the prisons, to pay an extra 30 percent markup.

The reversal came after two days’ of inquiries from The Washington Post asking about the vendor, the markup and the rationale for the restriction.

Prison officials said in an email Thursday that the bureau had rescinded the memos and will review the policy to “ensure we strike the right balance between maintaining the safety and security of our institutions and inmate access to correspondence and reading materials.” …”

The long view: scholars assess the state of history | THE Features

“Our ability as historians to rebut simplistic misconceptions depends on the availability of both information and personnel. Open-access scholarship is vital to combat “fake news”, not merely in the formal sense of articles being freely available online but also in the form of scholars disseminating their learning outside journals….”

How the Guardian found 800,000 paying readers | The Drum

“The paper has also slightly increased – to 200,000 – its subscriber base for its print and digital products. And in a development which has even surprised senior Guardian executives, a further 300,000 individuals have made single donations to the paper, which has been posting appeals at the end of articles, urging readers to financially support its commitment to open access journalism….”

Brazilians launch “Libre”, a new microfinancing technology for journalism | Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

“Brazil has seen dozens of independent journalism initiatives emerge in recent years, many of them launched with the proposal of innovating in terms of content and the ways it’s presented. One challenge facing most of these initiatives concerns financial sustainability: how to generate the income needed to improve journalistic quality, keeping content accessible to as many people as possible?

Libre, a new microfinancing technology for digital journalism, aims to help Brazilian outlets solve this impasse. The tool uses a mechanism similar to likes and shares in social networks, but proposes the transformation of these manifestations of appreciation for content into financial support for outlets and journalists….”

OSCE-supported training on open data and data journalism | OSCE

“WHEN

24 August 2017 (All day) – 25 August 2017 (All day)

WHERE

 

Almaty, Kazakhstan

ORGANIZED BY

 

The OSCE Programme Office in Astana, National Information Technologies, Internews Kazakhstan

The two-day training seminar is aimed at providing journalists with a deeper understanding of the sources of open data, the principles of data visualization, data-journalism and open data processing methods. The event also aims to equip journalists with the latest skills on analyzing and filtering large data sets for the purpose of creating a news story. Main drivers for this process are newly available resources such as Open Government and Open Data EGov portals.

Under the guidance of experts from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, the participants will work together with IT specialists to present six data-projects as the outcome of the practical work. A separate session will be devoted to the practical exercise on data visualization. The project aims to enhance journalistic professionalism and institutional sustainability of media outlets, as well as enhance the demand for open data published by the state authorities.”

What can fact-checkers learn from Wikipedia? We asked the boss of its nonprofit owner – Poynter

“Several studies have shown that Wikipedia is as reliable if not more reliable than more traditional encyclopedias. A 2012 study commissioned by Oxford University and the Wikimedia Foundation, for example, showed that when compared with other encyclopedic entries, Wikipedia articles scored higher overall with respect to accuracy, references and overall judgment when compared with articles from more traditional encyclopedias. Wikipedia articles were also generally seen as being more up-to-date, better-referenced and at least as comprehensive and neutral. This study followed a similar 2005 study from Nature that found Wikipedia articles on science as reliable as their counterparts from Encyclopedia Britannica.”

#KeepMarching: How science communication can sustain a movement | PLOS SciComm

“Publish your research with an Open Access publisher. If your study is behind a paywall, or requires a library subscription for access, the public, the press, and politicians are less likely to take an interest your work. It’s hard to communicate the value of your research if the study itself is unavailable….”

Publicity without scrutiny: journals’ media embargoes under fire | Times Higher Education (THE)

“The issuing of press releases about academic research that is not openly available impedes fact-checking and public debate, it has been warned.

MPs on the UK’s science and technology committee said that they took a “dim view” of the issuing of press releases without allowing access to the full peer-reviewed reports, having heard evidence that publishers were using embargoes as “news management” tools in such cases….In its evidence, Imperial College London says that some of the drawbacks of the embargo system “could be addressed if press releases and the journal papers on which they are based were required to be publicly available and linked from online news reports as part of the embargo contract”.

Felicity Mellor, senior lecturer in science communication at Imperial, told Times Higher Education that journals should make research papers available to journalists, “regardless of whether they’re open access”….”

Open access publications get more media coverage – Altmetric

“There is evidence that news coverage confers a citation advantage. For example, a 1991 controlled study found that articles covered by the New York Times received up to 73% more  citations that those not covered [30]. A 2003 study confirmed the results of Phillips et al. [30], reporting higher citation rates for articles covered by the media [31]. We refer readers to a blog post by Matt Shipman, which alerted us to these studies and has a good discussion of their continued relevance, despite their older publication dates [32].”

Impact of Social Sciences – Working with the media can be beneficial but linking to and citing your research should be compulsory

“It’s great when academic research is covered by the media but too often this coverage fails to link back to or properly cite the research itself. It’s time academics insisted on this and Andy Tattersall outlines the benefits of doing so. As well as pointing more people to your work, the use of identifiers allows you to track this attention and scrutinise where and how your research has been used. At a time when academic work is vulnerable to misreporting, such a simple step can help ensure the public are able to view original research for themselves….”

Journalists who fear that open access to public records will limit their scoops and exclusivity

“A draft freedom-of-information policy in Calgary, Alberta, would require that whenever FOI requests are granted, the same information released to the requestors must also be released to the public. 

Not everyone thinks this is a good idea, and the source of the opposition may surprise you….”

Calgary presses ahead with ‘Orwellian’ freedom of information policy draft – Calgary – CBC News

“The province’s [Alberta’s] move [draft freedom of information policy] was widely criticized by journalists and opposition parties at the time, who said the change would undermine the exclusivity of documents they often spend great amounts of time and money working to obtain.

Exclusive stories or “scoops” are highly valuable to reporters, activists and opposition members, said Sean Holman, a professor of journalism at Mount Royal University.

“People with a private interest to hold government to account — whether it be reporters, activists or opposition politicians — do so because it’s not just in the public interest, but also because they’re able to get something out of that,” he said.

“So, if you put that information out there to everyone, it ruins the scoop and decreases the incentive to file a freedom of information request. Rightly or wrongly, this is how accountability works in a democratic society.”…”