Brechner Events

Brechner FOI Award winning team from The Miami Herald to be recognized at April 8 luncheon

Members of the Miami Herald project team that produced “Shakedown City,” which won the 2024 Brechner Freedom of Information Award will discuss their  work at a luncheon in Gainesville, Florida, on Monday, April 8. All are welcome.

The event takes place from 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m. at the Cone Park Library, 2801 E. University Ave. The talk is sponsored by the Florida Free Speech Forum. Attendees can pay $20 for lunch or attend for free without lunch. Register here by April 1.

Shakedown City,” an investigation into government corruption within the city of Miami that spawned a series of investigations by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission and state ethics commission.

Investigative reporter Sarah Blaskey, Miami government reporter Joey
Flechas and senior investigations editor Casey Frank will discuss investigation
at the luncheon.

The journalists submitted more than 150 public records requests and battled almost daily with city attorneys when the requests were ignored. The Herald’s document-based reporting revealed that Mayor Francis Suarez secretly received $170,000 from a developer, and used his clout to secure 13 side jobs, including for crypto-related ventures, encouraging staff to convert paychecks to digital tokens.

Twenty news organizations throughout the United States and Canada submitted their records-based reporting to the annual competition. The Brechner Freedom of Information Award has been presented annually since 1986 to reward excellence in reporting that draws on government documents and data, shedding light on official secrecy. The award includes a $3,000 cash prize, made possible by an endowment created by the Brechner family.

Press freedom, democratization, and election quality in Africa

This year has been dubbed the year of elections; nowhere is this truer than in Africa, where 22 countries are holding presidential and parliamentary elections. This talk will explore the opportunities for increased democratization in African nations through press freedom, access to information, and free elections. The talk features Dr. Kingsley Ngange, a professor from Cameroon who is working from the University of Florida this year as a Fulbright scholar to develop stronger laws for his country in press freedom and access to information, as well as Dr. Nicholas Kerr, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Florida, whose research focuses on democratization and elections in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Date: Friday, April 19, 2024

Time: 3-4:15 p.m.

Place: Weimer Hall, Room 3032

Sponsors: UF Center for African Studies, Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project, and Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project

For more information: Contact Dr. David Cuillier,


Dr. Kingsley Lyonga Ngange is an Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Cooperation and Relations with the Business World, University of Buea, Cameroon. He is currently a Fulbright Visiting African Research Scholar at the Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project, in the College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida. He is a former broadcast journalist with the Cameroon Radio and Television Corporation and former Chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication University of Buea for several years. He has been involved in Journalism and Mass Communication training, practice, education, and management for the past 25 years. He been a visiting scholar in the USA (2010, 2015 and 2023/2024) and different parts of Africa for a decade now. Dr. Ngange has supervised several Masters and Ph.D. theses and published extensively in reputable international journals and books.


Dr. Nicholas N. Kerr is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida. His research interests include comparative institutions, democratization, electoral management, electoral integrity, public opinion, and African politics. His first book, Electoral Commissions and Democratization in Africa, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. He has also published in leading journals, including Comparative Politics, Governance, Political Research Quarterly, Political Studies, Political Psychology, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Electoral Studies. Several of these publications have explored how electoral institutions, processes, and outcomes affect popular and elite legitimacy. Nicholas also has experience conducting fieldwork and organizing surveys in several African countries and has advised several prominent democracy promotion and political development organizations. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from Williams College.


Dr. Miles Larmer is now, after a decade at the University of Oxford (2013-2023), Professor of History and Director of the Center of African Studies at the University of Florida. His research focuses on southern and central Africa, specializing in the modern history of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. His work analyses how local African actors have engaged andintersected with global historical dynamics, and in so doing challenges the ‘methodological nationalism’ of much modern African historiography. He has written on social and political change; labor and social movements; extractive communities; military conflict amid Africa’s Cold War; nationalism, migration and urbanization; and, more recently, environmental history and intellectual history, particularly focusing on the relationship between social history and knowledge production.

 Jason Leopold

On Oct. 20, 2022, Brechner Center Journalist-in-Residence Sara Ganim had a conversation with award-winning journalist Jason Leopold. He’s been called “the most active individual FOIA litigator in the United States today.”

Click the image below to watch the video.