SPJ Oregon member Garrett Andrews mentors students
May 19, 2017
The Oregon Territory Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announces the first debate between Gov. Kate Brown and challenger Bud Pierce w...
SPJ Hosts Debate Sept. 24 Between Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and GOP Challenger Bud Pierce
July 6, 2016
Oregon journalists honored at annual SPJ awards ceremony
June 12, 2017
Why we're celebrating Sept. 26
September 19, 2017
Next Tuesday, SPJ Oregon is hosting a victory party to celebrate our wins from this legislative session -- and a fundraiser to help us continue our vital work. Join us at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26 at Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub112 SW 2nd Ave, Portland, Oregon 97204. Please RSVP on our Facebook event page and invite your friends. If you can't come but want to support our work -- or want to donate in advance of the event -- visit our Generosity page
What are we celebrating?
This was a banner year for open government reforms and the Oregon Territory chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was there from beginning to end. Together with our lobbyist, former journalist Doug Barber, we made significant progress in four key areas during the legislative session.
- Records-law exemption review: In a move spearheaded by SPJ Oregon, thestate will now have an Oregon Sunshine Committee, modeled on similar bodies in Washington, Maine and New York, to review the confusing thicket of exemptions to public records law. As part of this legislation, the public will be alerted to any new exemptions legislators want to pass with a new Open Government Impact Statement.
- Timeliness of public records disclosure: SPJ Oregon was also influential inthe the push for more timely responses to requests. The Attorney General’s bill calls for prompt replies, and we pushed to make the bill stronger, with more rights for requesters over delays. When an effort gathered momentum to hijack the bill and dramatically increase officials' ability to withhold records, SPJ and its lobbyist rapidly and successfully mobilized allies to quash the attempt.
- Records training and dispute resolution:SPJ was part of the stakeholder work group for Gov. Kate Brown's bill setting up a Public Records Advocate, and successfully pushed to focus the office's duties — making sure requesters could avoid getting bogged down in unwanted or time-consuming mediation. We successfully ensured the office has clear authority to obtain disputed records from recalcitrant agencies.
- Ensure public access to government databases:SPJ Oregon crafted a bill called Transparency by Design, which sought to make sure IT contractors have to design public databases with public access in mind. While the bill was not passed into law, its ideas gained momentum and SPJ Oregon’s Open Government Committee members were able to tweak a bill creating a Chief Data Officer to include similar guidance: that proprietary databases must allow access to public information.
While there remains ample room for improvement in government transparency here, the SPJ Oregon board and its Open Government Committee feel confident that they won as much as was possible in this round of thelegislature.
And we ain’t done yet. SPJ is already making plans to monitor implementation of the new reforms. Our organization is also working with lawmakers to set up awork group exploring more data transparency, and gearing up to push for reforms in records fees in the next full session.
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!