Every public official we asked to join us, did so. We filled the room. We batted questions and answers back and forth about the state of freedom of information for journalists. Tough questions especially.
Most important of all, we reminded each other that this needs to be the first step of an important project for the Chicago Headline Club, for journalists, for our communities and for anyone who cares about the press and democracy.
Indeed, our gathering on Freedom of Information last weekend was a very satisfying one.
As a reminder, we had received an unprecedented grant from the McCormick Foundation to do a survey of the state of Freedom of Information and public access rights for Chicago area journalists. We hired researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago to carry out the survey. We did in person focus group interviews as well.
And when the results came in, we met with officials from the city, state and county to learn what they were doing in light of what we found. From officials with the new administrations at Cook County and Chicago City hall, we heard about new efforts that would set aside a troubling legacy. The state Attorney General’s office emphasized its desire to improve its work on behalf of journalists.
Such a survey and the results it wrought are exactly role that the Chicago Headline Club needs to continue to play.
So, we’ll continue to meet with other public agencies cited in the study to see how they are changing. We’ll hold a workshop in November to go over how you file for Freedom of Information Act related information. And we’ll keep extending our hands to other groups engaged in the same struggle.
Our board members, who churned out flyers and made calls and showed up the day of the event at Loyola University’s Water Tower campus, deserve great thanks. And those of you who joined us, your presence was truly appreciated. But let’s not stop there. We’ve got a lot to do and we don’t dare let things rest, assuming journalists can get the information they need.
If you want to help with this effort in terms of meetings or trainings or whatever, please let me know.
Steve Franklin, Chicago Headline Club president,
firstname.lastname@example.org, cell 773 595 8667