The United States is in dire need of an improved Freedom of Information Act, not just for journalists and academics, but because every citizen has the right to know what their government is doing. A new, straightforward attempt to do this called the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014 (S. 2520) has massive support—a version passed the House 410-0—but there is one man trying to shut this bipartisan effort down.
Outgoing Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia is single-handedly trying to stop the transparency legislation by not letting it come up for a vote. On Thursday he put a hold on the bill, and refused to comment. When he did, he issued a brief non-statement saying more transparency would “have the unintended consequence of harming our ability to enforce the many important federal laws…”
The FOIA Improvement Act would, for example: [click to continue…]
I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Animal Law Conference last month, and when I was there I sat down with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to talk about the role of journalists in protecting animals (and protecting the civil rights of those who are protecting animals).
I hope you’ll check out this brief video about ag-gag laws, which make it illegal to expose animal welfare abuses, food safety violations, and workers’ rights infringements on factory farms and slaughterhouses. [click to continue…]
My latest article for the October 2014 issue of Wired magazine:
The agriculture industry is waging an international campaign to create a media blackout. In response to a series of investigations by animal-welfare groups that has resulted in criminal prosecutions and consumer outrage, the industry is promoting new “ag-gag” laws that make it illegal to photograph factory farms and slaughterhouses. About half a dozen US states currently have these laws, and now this censorship model is being adopted internationally.
So how should journalists respond to investigative methods and sources being criminalised? Just as the best response to governments banning books is to encourage reading them, the best response to banning photographs is to encourage more photography. It’s time for journalists to send in the drones.
As a reporter, I always want to see what’s hidden. When government documents are redacted, it naturally makes them more intriguing. And when factory farms introduce new laws to prohibit media exposure, it makes me want to see what it is that they are hiding. [click to continue…]
I’ve got a few speaking events coming up in the next couple weeks. Hope to see ya’ll there!
Friday, November 7th, 2014
Ciudad de las Ideas, Mexico City
Thursday, November 13th, 2014
George Washington University (Law School Room SCC on 2nd Floor of Lisner Hall, 7pm)
Saturday, November 15th, 2014
Albany Veg Fest (keynote, 12:15 pm)
Thursday, November 20
Vassar College (Rocky 300, 5pm)
Photo courtesy of Colette-Yasi Naraghi