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 the First Amendment. Overall, the freedoms — can you name them? — earned a C+, the same grade they earned in the spring. As one of 15 panelists assigning grades, I argued the press deserves a top grade for providing reliable, insightful reporting but essential support for press freedom deserves an F for threats that journalists face. (By the way, it’s press, assembly, religion, speech and petition.)

Check it out here.

FOIA: THE OMBUDSMAN NEEDS TO GROW
When Congress improved FOIA last year, it built in some growing pains for the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). Today, we’re seeing those pains in longer than usual waits for replies from OGIS. The office has reportedly been inundated with requests for assistance as FOIA requesters navigate FOIA. In response, they’ve had to triage the Office’s response to help requests. So what can journalists do to cover the story often behind the stories? Report it. Look here for more.

REPORTING TOOLS
• POLITICO’s UNAUTHORIZED White House Visitor Logs
The Trump administration stopped releasing White House Visitor Logs, so POLITICO built its own. It’s updated.

• RollCall’s TAX RETURNS OF MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Roll Call reporters Stephanie Akin and Sean McMinn pressed Members of Congress on disclosing their tax returns while controversy surrounded President Trump’s refusal to release his returns. In April they requested tax returns from each of the 530 Members of Congress that were in office at the time. Fifty-seven members either released their returns or had already done so. Check out their findings (and the returns) here.

ICYMI: INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING IS A GREAT INVESTMENT FOR SOCIETY, SAYS ECONOMICS PROFESSOR
If you’re not familiar with economist James T. Hamilton, you should be. He studies the how journalism impacts society and how government policy influences the information the public receives. His startling conclusion: For every dollar the News and Observer spent on an investigative reporting project focused on North Carolina’s probation system, society received $287 in benefits from reforms. And that’s just in the first year, says Hamilton. Read his interview published a in April with CJR.
Source: Anya Shiffrin, “Book aims to pin down economic return on investigative reporting,” Columbia Journalism Review. Available here (accessed July 14, 2017).

FIRST Principles will be published biweekly.