IIT Chicago-Kent Center for Open Government to host Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Act training seminar for journalists

March 17 "Sunshine Week" observance is free to professional and citizen journalists

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Center for Open Government at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, the Chicago Headline Club and Citizen Advocacy Center will co-sponsor a free open government training seminar for professional and citizen journalists March 17 from noon to 2 p.m. at the law school, Room 580, 565 West Adams St. (between Clinton and Jefferson streets), in Chicago. 

The seminar, designed to inform journalists on the best methods for obtaining access to government records and helpful methods for effectively using the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA), is part of the nationwide observance of Sunshine Week March 11–17.

Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information, was established by the American Society of News Editors in 2005. Sunshine Week programs are held annually to coincide with James Madison's birthday—March 16. Participants and sponsors currently include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofit organizations, schools and others interested in "the public's right to know."

The two-hour program at IIT Chicago-Kent will focus on making Freedom of Information Act requests, getting help from the Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Counselor, appealing FOIA denials, submitting standing requests, and filing lawsuits to obtain information.  In addition, presenters will discuss the Open Meetings Act with regard to monitoring government meetings, spotting and challenging improperly closed sessions, and First Amendment issues. 

Presenters include Chicago Reporter writer Angela Caputo, who will discuss her experiences with FOIA and OMA; Chicago Headline Club president Steve Franklin; attorney Maryam Judar of the Citizen Advocacy Center; and Professor Natalie Brouwer Potts, director of the Center for Open Government at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Admission to the seminar is free, but reservations are required. Please email the Chicago Headline Club at chc.spj@gmail.com to confirm attendance by March 16, 2012. 

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), a private, Ph.D.-granting institution. IIT Chicago-Kent established the Center for Open Government in 2009 to help ensure transparency, accountability and responsibility in local and state government. The Center identifies instances where legal recourse is needed to provide access to government information and proceedings. The Center focuses on cases challenging closed government processes under the Illinois Open Meetings Act, the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, and similar statutes.