About the Center

Our Mission

The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications exists to advance understanding, appreciation and support for freedom of information in the state of Florida, the nation and the world.

Through education and promotion of freedom of information laws and policies, the nonpartisan Center seeks to foster open government and a participatory democracy.

In addition, The Brechner Center serves the public with information about the First Amendment, freedom of information, and access to government information issues.

Since 1977, The Brechner Center has been a freedom of information resource in Florida and beyond.

What We Do

  • Educate the public, press and government officials about the value of open government and the important role that freedom of information plays in a democracy.
  • Monitor developments in the area of freedom of information at all levels of government.
  • Provide clear, current and useful research and commentary in response to queries about First Amendment and access issues.
  • Conduct and publish scholarly research that underscores the importance of freedom of information to society.
  • Foster the work of undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of media law and policy.

The Center director mentors students to produce applied and scholarly research in freedom of information, publishes the peer-reviewed open access Journal of Civic Information, and directs education efforts, such as the Why Don’t We Know? podcast.

The Brechner Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational center, answers queries about media law from journalists, attorneys, and other members of the public. The Center is prepared to explain issues relating to media law, provide educational and training materials, react to current developments, and offer speakers for meetings and conferences. The Brechner Center does not provide legal advice.

The Brechner Center is funded by the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, and through interest generated from $4.7 million in endowments established through the decades by McClatchy, the Brechner family, and Tampa Bay Times. The center also has received grants for projects in the past from the Hearst Foundation and the Lumina Foundation.


The Brechner Center is the successor to the Florida Freedom of Information Clearinghouse, established in 1977. For nearly 10 years, the Clearinghouse operated under the direction of Professor Jo Anne Smith. Many of the funds for the Clearinghouse endowment were provided by the Florida news media.

Joseph L. Brechner, an Orlando broadcaster and advocate of freedom of information, provided more than $1 million for the eminent scholar endowment, funds to construct a suite of offices, and funds to enlarge the operational endowment. In 1986, the Clearinghouse was renamed the Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information to honor Mr. Brechner’s contributions to freedom of information.

The Center’s founding director, Dr. Bill F. Chamberlin, ran the Center until 1999, when he initiated the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project and the Center’s assistant director, Sandra F. Chance, Esq., was named executive director of the Center.

Ms. Chance served in the role for 18 years and retired from the university in 2019.

Frank D. LoMonte, Esq., was named executive director of the Center in 2017, after serving for 10 years as executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C. On Feb. 1, 2022, Mr. LoMonte joined CNN in Atlanta as legal counsel.

Dr. David Cuillier was named director of the Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project on Feb. 21, 2023, and started July 3, 2023. Dr. Cuillier previously served as associate professor, director of graduate studies, and school director at the University of Arizona School of Journalism, where he taught for 17 years. A leading authority on freedom of information, he also served as president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, and is founding editor of the Journal of Civic Information. During the past two decades, Dr. Cuillier has taught more than 10,000 journalists, students and citizens on how to acquire public records, and is co-author with Brechner alum Charles N. Davis of “The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records” and “Transparency 2.0: Digital Data and Privacy in a Wired World.” He is a member of the Federal FOIA Advisory Committee, which provides guidance to the National Archivist on how to improve the Freedom of Information Act, and he has testified three times before Congress regarding FOIA.

Contact Us

We can be reached at (352) 392-2273 or via email at brechnerreport@jou.ufl.edu.

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