FIRST Principles: Working with whistleblowers and more

This is your FIRST Principles Update for October 2, 2017, by NEWS MEDIA FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT, a coalition of media associations advancing newsgathering, press freedom and open government. For more, visit foropengov.org or follow us @foropengov.   RESOURCE: WHISTLEBLOWER DEFENSE GROUP PUBLISHES GUIDE FOR JOURNALISTS Vulnerable sources inside government may not fully understand their rights, the various whistleblower channels for reporting issues internally, and potential consequence from retaliatory actions for going public. “Journalists need to understand not only the value of a whistleblower’s information but also the unique challenges and risks faced by sources who are employees,” writes Dana Gold in [More]

FIRST Principles for September 18, 2017

WHITE HOUSE ORDERS LEAKS TRAINING FOR THIS WEEK The Trump Administration has requested that federal agencies organize 1-hour training sessions sometime in the coming week on the dangers of unauthorized disclosures of classified information as well as the need to safeguard “controlled unclassified information.” BuzzFeed News’ Chris Geidner reports that on September 8, National Security Advisory H.LR. McMaster requested that all departments and agencies organize the training sometime the week of September 18-22, 2017. McMaster suggests potential training materials could include a Fox News interview with National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina or a video of Attorney General [More]

Pentagon, FOIA Ombudsman, Benefits > Costs. It’s your FIRST Principles for July 17, 2017

This is your FIRST Principles Update July 17, 2017 DEFENSE WANTS STATUTORY EXEMPTION FOR TACTICS, TECHNIQUES, PROCEDURES AND RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. The Pentagon wants to keep secret the tactics, techniques and procedures that the military teaches soldiers so adversaries are not tipped off to the military’s thinking. Understandable, sure, but we’re working to ensure we can cover the military as an organization, a workplace, and a buyer of goods and services using taxpayer dollars. Go here for more. STATE of the FIRST A. The Newseum Institute assembled a second quarterly Report Card assessing the state of the five freedoms of [More]

First Amendment Panel Ranks a Free Press as Most at Risk

Reviewers for the second quarter in a row ranked freedom of the press as the most at risk in an assessment of threats to freedoms protected under the First Amendment. The reviewers, including yours truly, gave press freedom another C in the second quarterly report card issued by the Newseum Institute, the center affiliated with the Newseum in Washington, DC that promotes the five freedoms of the First Amendment. Reviewers cited physical assaults on reporters and calls for prosecutions of journalists among other threats to journalists. Threats on journalists appear to be clearly on the minds of the American public. [More]

White House photographs should be taken by impartial ‘visual journalists’

This is another reminder that if you let someone take a selfie with you, you should expect to see it online. Yesterday, on May 10, President Donald Trump met in the Oval Office with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister and allowed the Russian news agency TASS to photograph the event while denying access to American press. Unnamed sources within the White House later said they felt “tricked” and that they did not believe TASS would release the photographs, according to CNN. Press coverage is, and should be, daily at the White House, and that coverage ought to include newsgathering [More]

FIRST Principles Update for May 8, 2017

Wikileaks under renewed Justice Department scrutiny In recent weeks, the government has turned up the public relations temperature against WikiLeaks. In late April, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department is seriously examining whether to prosecute WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. CIA Director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks a hostile non-state intelligence service. At the same time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is “stepping up” the justice Department’s work against leaks, Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports. ‘We are going to step up our efforts and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks,’ the attorney general said. ‘This is a matter that [More]

FIRST Principles Update for March 21, 2017

News Media for Open Government publishes FIRST Principles to update you on some of what we’re following. Lawmakers prod executive branch to implement FOIA reforms. On March 15, 2017, senior senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent letters seeking updates and timetables for completing reforms that Congress put in place last year make the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) work better. Signed by Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the letters were notable for sending a clear message that Senators on a bipartisan basis want to see the [More]

FIRST Principles for March 3, 2017

Welcome to the News Media for Open Government FIRST Principles Updates Name Change: Why we became News Media for Open Government. Working for over a decade as the Sunshine in Government Initiative, we adopted a new name, a new, broadened mission to protect newsgathering, and a new look. And in 2017, we’ll be doing more to help our member groups keep track of trends and fight to protect newsgathering and open government. Comments, concerns, tips or suggestions? Send them to Rick Blum, director, News Media for Open Government at rblum@foropengov.org. Appreciation to our members. If you support these groups through [More]