Brechner News

New Study Explores How College Media Independence Can Survive Financial Instability

More than half of college student news organizations have major financial ties to their university, which can be problematic for student journalists who risk losing their independence if there aren’t several safeguards in place. That was one of the findings in a new report from the University of Florida Brechner Freedom of Information Project, which studied the financial state of college newspapers, focusing on the editorially independence of student-run media, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the operations of many of these outlets.

Posted: February 19, 2024

More than half of college student news organizations have major financial ties to their university, which can be problematic for student journalists who risk losing their independence if there aren’t several safeguards in place. That was one of the findings in a new report from the University of Florida Brechner Freedom of Information Project, which studied the financial state of college newspapers, focusing on the editorially independence of student-run media, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the operations of many of these outlets. The report, “Freedom in College Newsrooms: An Assessment of Financial and Editorial Independence,” summarizes three years of research done…

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David Cuillier Comments on State Secrecy and Conflict of Interest Disclosure

David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “’I Like Mexicans’ Omitted from San Fran State Crime Announcement” published in The College Fix on Feb. 14.

Posted: February 15, 2024

David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “’I Like Mexicans’ Omitted from San Fran State Crime Announcement” published in The College Fix on Feb. 14. The article focuses on the actions of officials at San Francisco State University who won’t explain why they redacted a witness statement to the police concerning purportedly offensive graffiti discovered on campus. According to Cuillier, “Oddly, [California] is one of the most secretive states in the nation when it comes to the ability for people to find out what police are up to. I think a big part of that…

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Brechner FOI Project to co-sponsor NFOIC annual research competition

The Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information (FOI) Project at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is joining the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) in promoting research in access to government information.

Posted: January 9, 2024

Jan. 9, 2024 Contact: David Cuillier, Brechner FOI Project, cuillierd@ufl.edu Jeff Roberts, NFOIC president, jroberts@coloradofoic.org The Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information (FOI) Project at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is joining the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) in promoting research in access to government information. The two organizations will co-sponsor the annual Freedom of Information Research Competition, which, for the past five years, has encouraged and awarded top research on the ability of the public to acquire and use civic data. The Brechner FOI Project will provide $1,000 toward the competition prize money, matching…

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David Cuillier Comments on Government Secrecy and Lack of Public Records Access

David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “Locked Out of Local Government: Residents Decry Increased Secrecy Among Towns, Counties, Schools,” published by The Associated Press on Dec. 18.

Posted: December 30, 2023

David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “Locked Out of Local Government: Residents Decry Increased Secrecy AmongTowns, Counties, Schools,” published by The Associated Press on Dec. 18. The article focuses on the lack of disclosure regarding a major property-tax hike in a small Pennsylvania town. It’s an example of the trend toward government secrecy and how access to public records is worsening. “It’s been going on for decades, but it’s accelerated the past 10 years,” said Cuillier. Few states compile data on public records requests, and laws governing open records differ by state, making a…

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David Cuillier Comments on the Concealing of Taxpayer-Funded Public Records

David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “Washington Tax Agency Pressured to End Controversial Secrecy Policy” published on crosscut.com on Dec. 13.

Posted: December 29, 2023

David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “Washington Tax Agency Pressured to End Controversial Secrecy Policy” published on crosscut.com on Dec. 13. The article focuses on a recently revealed policy from the State of Washington Department of Revenue that supposedly allowed it to black out certain public records with a controversial secrecy exemption claimed by state lawmakers. The legislative privilege claim has raised questions about the separation of government powers. According to Cuillier, around the U.S., notions of privilege are increasingly being used to conceal taxpayer-funded records from the public. “As Washington’s Democratic-controlled Legislature pursues…

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David Cuillier Comments on Lack of Oversight for Distribution of Funds to Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers

David Cuillier, director of the  Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “How Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers in Florida Get Taxpayer Funds With Almost No Oversight” published on revealnews.org on Dec. 13.

Posted: December 15, 2023

David Cuillier, director of the  Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “How Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers in Florida Get Taxpayer Funds With Almost No Oversight” published on revealnews.org on Dec. 13. The story focuses on the Florida Pregnancy Care Network, a nonprofit in charge of distributing state funds to qualifying agencies. However, financial troubles at one pregnancy center highlight gaps in its review of organizations that receive money. According to Cuillier, outsourcing the alternatives-to-abortion program’s operations creates barriers around the public’s ability to scrutinize how taxpayer funds are spent – a practice he equated to “laundering public information through…

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Brechner Freedom of Information Project to Lead National Sunshine Week

The Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications will educate Americans about the right to public records by coordinating national Sunshine Week, starting in March 2024.

Posted: December 11, 2023

The Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications will educate Americans about the right to public records by coordinating national Sunshine Week, starting in March 2024. The News Leaders Association (NLA), which has led Sunshine Week since 2005, is transferring the public awareness campaign to Brechner. The Brechner FOI Project has provided education and research in acquiring civic information since its inception in 1977. Sunshine Week, to be held March 11-15, 2024, highlights the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy. Dave Cuillier “It is an honor to carry on this…

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David Cuillier Comments on Secret Search for YSU President

David Cuillier, director of the  Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “WATCHDOG REPORT: Researchers say YSU’s Secret President Search May Not Have Been the Best Option” published on wfmj.com, the NBC television affiliate in Youngstown, Ohio on Dec. 4.

Posted: December 7, 2023

David Cuillier, director of the  Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “WATCHDOG REPORT: Researchers say YSU’s Secret President Search May Not Have Been the Best Option” published on wfmj.com, the NBC television affiliate in Youngstown, Ohio on Dec. 4. The story focuses on Youngstown State University’s (YSU) search for a new president. Rather than conducting an open search, they chose a private firm to find and vet candidates. “If you or I apply for a job, we may not want our employer to know, [but] there are other times where we want them to know and it ends…

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David Cuillier to Discuss Public Records Legislation at Newspaper Association Managers Conference

David Cuillier, director of the  Brechner Freedom of Information Project, will provide a national overview of the ability for people to access government information at the Newspaper Association Managers conference on Dec. 4 in Washington, D.C.

Posted: December 1, 2023

David Cuillier, director of the  Brechner Freedom of Information Project, will provide a national overview of the ability for people to access government information at the Newspaper Association Managers conference on Dec. 4 in Washington, D.C. The organization represents directors of state, regional, national and international press associations, which assist community newspapers in improving their news coverage and ability to remain financially viable. Cuillier is scheduled to discuss trends in public records legislation and increased government secrecy in the states, based on the Brechner Project’s research, as well as tools to help press associations better monitor secrecy.

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Brechner Freedom of Information Project’s Journal of Civic Information Features New Study on Online Crime Data and Public Access

The November 2023 edition of the Journal of Civic Information, published by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Freedom of Information Project, features a new study “Owning the Police: Crime Data, Copyright, and Public Information” by Jay Wagner of Marquette University.

Posted: December 1, 2023

The November 2023 edition of the Journal of Civic Information, published by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Freedom of Information Project, features a new study “Owning the Police: Crime Data, Copyright, and Public Information” by Jay Wagner of Marquette University. The study indicates that about half of the nation’s police departments that post crime data online through commercial companies grant the websites exclusive control of that public information – curtailing the ability for other people to acquire and analyze that information for themselves. Wagner examined 250 of the nation’s largest police departments and found that about two-thirds…

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How COVID-19 Affected College Newspapers

Student newspapers are integral to the free flow of ideas and information on college campuses. But with campus closures, business shutdowns and student enrollment declines during COVID-19, the independence of these publications is in question.

Posted: November 29, 2023

Student newspapers are integral to the free flow of ideas and information on college campuses. But with campus closures, business shutdowns and student enrollment declines during COVID-19, the independence of these publications is in question. University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) doctoral student Jessica Sparks, CNN Counsel and former Brechner Center for Freedom of Information Director Frank LoMonte, and UFCJC alumna April Rubin wanted to determine how student media was affected by the global pandemic and whether student media has been forever changed. Their research showed that student newspapers have transitioned to a more diverse revenue model and will continue some pandemic-specific…

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Brechner FOI Project Hosts Cameroonian Fulbright Scholar Developing Legislation for Press Rights and Access to Information

A leading journalism scholar from Cameroon, Africa, will spend the next nine months at the University of Florida developing laws to foster democracy in his home country.

Posted: November 8, 2023

A leading journalism scholar from Cameroon, Africa, will spend the next nine months at the University of Florida developing laws to foster democracy in his home country. Kingsley Ngange, a former broadcast journalist and current deputy vice-chancellor of research at the University of Buea, began studying this month at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications’ Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project. “I consider information the stock and trade of journalists, and they need to have a good quantity and good quality of information,” Ngange said. “A better-informed population will perform better democratic functions.” Ngange will examine how the…

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