The Columbia Journalism Review has filed a lawsuit against the state of New York for refusing to release information under the state’s Freedom of Information law.
[T]he records we’re seeking would likely help illuminate the press’ role in a bizarre chain of events in state history that led to the appointment of an Independent Counsel and to the governor dropping his election campaign. Sure, there will be lots of chaff in those e-mails. But perhaps they’d offer some information explaining the resignations, show reporters testing the most bizarre theories circulating at the time, or catalogue an evolving damage-control line from the state’s highest official.
Any of that would all be potentially interesting, and that’s why we will exercise our rights under the law and file suit.
But given the response from the governor’s office, we now also think this suit must be waged to protect the full force of two laws that the state’s press corps rely on: the Freedom of Information Law and the state’s shield law
Four laid-off journalists have been recruited by the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) as part of the industry publication’s new Encore Fellowship initiative to give redundant journalists more job opportunities.
According to the CJR, the journalists will work for CJR for nine months and receive support on using their experience in the future. Their work will be featured in both the magazine and the website, from late October.
The Encore initiative has been developed by Civic Ventures, a partner of the project. The Poynter Institute have also partnered CJR for this scheme and will provide educational opportunities tailored to the new journalists’ needs.
The Encore journalists were chosen from journalists who, because of the industry’s economic condition, have left jobs as senior reporters. Encore has received a grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies and hopes that new donors will help an expanded program to launch for 2010.
There is lots of ground covered; MacAskill’s explanation of the Guardian’s approach in the States and his thoughts on differences between US and UK journalistic technique make particularly interesting reading. An extract:
“[I]n some ways, the American system is more transparent, but because of the more adversarial system in Britain, sometimes more stories come out there. It’s a contradiction: the American system is more transparent, but in spite of that, an awful lot goes on behind the scenes that we never get to hear about.”