Breaking Down the Walls: The Fight for Open Government

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve scheduled our upcoming Freedom of Information conference at the University of Florida: “Breaking Down the Walls: The Fight for Open Government.”

The conference will take place Thurs. March 26 and Fri. March 27.

National panel discussions will include, “Hitting the Wall: Reports from the Frontline of the FOIA Battlefield,” “Dismantling the Wall: FOIA Challenges and Opportunities on the Federal Level” and “Breaking Down the Walls: Identifying Problems and Possible Solutions.”

Participants include several nationally-known journalists, as well as some excellent Florida-based journalists; attorneys who specialize in open government issues; and Freedom of Information officials. I’ll be moderating a panel discussion Thurs. March 26 from 7-8 p.m. that includes former AP chief Middle East correspondent Terry Anderson. It will be open to the public.

Dean Diane McFarlin

A great deal of gratitude goes to all those at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications who have worked so hard to make this conference possible, including Dean Diane McFarlin and Sandra Chance, executive director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information and McClatchy Professor in Freedom of Information. They recognize today’s many challenges to journalism posed by Freedom of Information and open government obstacles.

The goal of the conference is to identify major issues, nationally and in Florida, and develop plans for improvements to laws and compliance by government officials.

Funded by some of the proceeds from my book, Stonewalled, the conference is co-sponsored by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, the Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, and the law firms of Thomas & LoCicero and Holland & Knight.

McFarlin became dean of the UF College of Journalism and Communications in January 2013. Prior to that, she served as executive editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for a decade and publisher for 13 years. Under her leadership, the Herald-Tribune Media Group, the largest media company in Southwest Florida, was touted as an industry leader in media convergence and digital innovation. She is a past president of the American Society of News Editors and has served six times as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes.

Professor Sandra Chance

Chance specializes in media law. Prior to her position at UF, she practiced law with the firm of Holland & Knight concentrating on media law cases. Her clients included The Tampa Tribune, the New York Times Regional Group (including The Gainesville Sun), The Miami Herald, and several radio and television stations throughout the southeast. She was named the Scripps-Howard National Journalism Teacher of the Year in 2005 and the College’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 1997.

Friday sessions are limited seating with priority given to UF advisory council members, conference speakers/panelists, the college’s journalism and communications students, and law school faculty.

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