First Amendment Foundation Update

First Amendment Foundation Update


For nearly 40 years the First Amendment Foundation has fought for open government and access to public records, often working side-by-side with reporters and newspapers as they struggled to get information that those in power sought to keep in the shadows. Once upon a time such abuses were rare. Unfortunately, these trends are far more common and we are seeing a general reluctance to provide public records or hold meetings out in the open. We need your help now to combat these trends on two levels.

First, we are going to build a dashboard on our website that keeps track of those agencies, boards, municipalities, constitutional officers and counties that are the most egregious violators of Floridians’ constitutional right to know. To do this we are asking that you — the vibrant local papers of the state — be our eyes and ears and report the worst of these violations to the First Amendment Foundation by sending an email to info@floridafaf.org. We are talking about the worst and most flagrant violations, not the normal slow-rolling response that is commonplace now. I am talking about clearly not responding to a matter of public urgency, or closed-door meetings, or outright refusal to surrender documents when there is no clear exemption and outrageous charges of tens of thousands of dollars for records. Our plan is to track these and give the reporting news organizations credit for the help. When compiled and presented on our site, a picture should emerge, exposing those who are most responsible and allowing your publications to name and shame them on your newspages.

Second, the First Amendment Foundation needs your financial support. We depend on the communities that depend on us, and no group has stronger ties to the FAF than newspapers and reporters. If you have already given, thank you. If you can, please donate again. If you have not donated, please send us whatever you can afford. We know these are trying times in the news business. As the newspaper industry contracts we feel it as much as you so please spare whatever you can. We are also expanding our mission to take on more and more free press and free speech issues. We have already done so this year by successfully fighting off Gov. DeSantis’ efforts to lower the bar on defamation lawsuits in Florida. Now with the recent police raid on the Marion County Record in Kansas, the dangers of government overreach are real and growing. Please help us so when the time comes we can help you.

It is a pleasure to work with you all and we look forward to even more cooperation as we track these abuses of power.

Yours in journalism,

Bobby Block

Executive Director

First Amendment Foundation